By Cailey Morgan
A New Identity
In the apostle Peter’s beautiful letter to the church scattered throughout Asia minor, he presents a sometimes-poetic, sometimes-stark picture of the diverse and persecuted people of God as the new Israel: God’s family. Christians are the new children of Abraham, the new temple, the new priesthood. It’s a new way to live—a life direction opposite to the Roman culture they lived in.
If you’ve got 8 minutes, check out this visual walk-through of 1 Peter below to see how all these Old Testament pieces fit together with Peter’s New Testament definition of the church:
We can quickly find parallels between our context in 21st-century Canada and that of the God’s people in Peter’s time, not to mention the transient and exilic days of the Israelites, as Ontario author Lee Beach writes in The Church In Exile. So as you read this verse, picture yourself, surrounded by your congregation, when you hear the word “you” in Peter’s statement here:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).
You have been called out of darkness and into light—an absolutely opposite experience from the life you used to have. And being this holy nation together not only shows up in the language we choose to employ or the “bad things” we try not to do, although that’s part of it (as a witness to God’s glory, 1 Peter 2:11-12).
In His Kingdom, the last shall be first. In His Kingdom, there’s a new definition of success. In His Kingdom, the way we treat people is transformed. Power is perfected in weakness.
Right-Side-Right Right Here, Right Now
Some of this right-side-right thinking will come up against global power and cultural influence: Peter calls Rome “Babylon” in his letter in recognition of the pervasive, abusive corruption of political and military power throughout history. But foremost, right now, the way of Jesus confronts insignificant me and little old you. It confronts the root of pride I carry, and that hidden anger cycle in your heart, and that nasty little “me first” impulse that pops up seemingly before we can stop it and pulls our minds into making decisions that leave us with the credit and someone else with the suffering.
Living in the way of Jesus is something we simply can’t do on our own. We can’t see rightly without His lenses; we can’t think rightly without His thoughts; we can’t live rightly without His Spirit.
When His Kingdom comes in full, we’ll finally grow into the holy and beautiful Bride Christ is inviting us to be. But until that day, we pray “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” And when we say those words, we’re asking the Lord to flip us right around, and give us the humility and the perspective to join Him in making the world around us more like heaven.
These next articles will be a study in opposites: how the Kingdom-of-God definitions of power and congregational success and leadership and conflict resolution contrast what we see around us (and even what we see in our own hearts), but how these ways of Jesus are in fact the key to being the chosen people and holy nation that we’ve been striving to become all along. I pray that you will see your identity as God’s set-apart sons and daughters and your life’s mission to “declare the praises of Him who called you” in every situation, every day.