Hear It on Sunday, Use It on Monday: What, Me? A Royal Priest?

When I was a kid I viewed the priest in my church with awe and reverence. He was clearly special, draped in ornate vestments, sitting solemn and statuesque in a throne behind the altar. He was mysterious, too -- a shadowy figure cloaked in dim behind the confessional screen, bestowing God’s forgiveness on me and wiping my soul clean with a few words and the sign of the cross as I kneeled next to the red velvet curtain.
I considered my priest powerful and authoritative, but also distant, set apart from us ordinary people. I remember asking my parents once if the priest was allowed to drink beer or smoke cigarettes. They shocked me when they answered, “Of course,” looking surprised that I’d ask such a question.  But I’d assumed our priest was above such common practices. I pictured him alone in a stark room, sipping water and eating leftover Eucharist wafers. Beer and cigarettes, even fun for that matter, didn’t jive with my picture of priesthood at all.
I think that’s why I am always surprised when I hear myself – regular old flawed, foibly, loudly guffawing me -- described in the Bible as a priest, like we heard in 1 Peter yesterday:
But you are God’s chosen and special people. You are a group of royal priests and a holy nation. (1 Peter 2:9).
What, me? You’re talking to me? A royal priest? Yeah, I don’t think so.
After all, being chosen as one of God’s priests is special. It means I am important in his eyes, that I am connected directly and intimately to him.  It means that I am set apart, and that I have a special role to fulfill in his kingdom – a role he created solely for me.
Feels like a lot of pressure, doesn’t it?
Truthfully, I don’t feel cut out for this job of “royal priest.” I’m too irritable. Too impatient. Too self-centered. I’m not solemn enough, or wise enough. I gossip from time to time and complain regularly and am short-tempered with my kids. I’m not priestly at all.  
Of course, I’m forgetting one important fact: that the priests of my childhood were flawed, too. Though they wore fancy vestments, they still battled sin and despair, just like me. Though I thought they bestowed forgiveness on me, in reality, they, too, had to ask God for forgiveness just as often. Turns out, they weren’t much different from me.
What I’m learning is this: God chooses each of his people to serve as royal priests. Some of us wear ornate robes, stand behind church altars and lead congregations through worship. Others of us wear jeans or suits and work in offices or herd kids. But we all share something in common: God chose each one of us as a royal priest, to carry out unique and important work in his kingdom on Earth.
How does it feel to consider yourself as one of God’s royal priests?

Lyli@3dLessons4Life  – (March 12, 2012 at 12:24 AM)  

It's a wonderful thought to realize that God a "unique and important work" for each of us.  We are chosen and equipped with spiritual gifts to fulfill a specific purpose in His grand design -- our personal holy office may be to pray for others or to encourage a weary friend.  Thanks for reminding me that each day provides a new opportunity to be His ambassador in simple ways. 

Hazel Moon –   – (March 12, 2012 at 1:36 AM)  

You have presented a beautiful truth with your post.  If the Bible says it, why are we so slow to believe it.  If we can believe it, our ministry will become easier, for we will truely know who we are IN Christ.

JosephPote –   – (March 12, 2012 at 5:51 AM)  

I feel both honored and intimidated...deeply thankful yet expectant.

I feel comletely incapable of filling the role God has given each of us...so I watch expectantly to see how He is going to pull it off...then I watch in astonishment as I see Him actually use my life to touch someone else.

He is truly amazing!

Kimberly Sullivan  – (March 12, 2012 at 6:20 AM)  

I feel like a little girl in her mother's high heeled shoes. I know that it doesn't fit on my feet without God's righteous robe...I'm glad you were encouraged!  This encouraged me too. 

PS.  Did I screw up my linkup button?  I didn't want to do it over because I didn't want to be on there twice...

Jen Ferguson  – (March 12, 2012 at 7:35 AM)  

It feels so amazing to think about being chosen by God...and we all are, no matter what clothes adorn our bodies.

kendalprivette –   – (March 12, 2012 at 7:45 AM)  

and the last part of that verse - it's so we can bring glory to god....love this verse. it's a reversal and seems so foreign to us.

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 12, 2012 at 7:47 AM)  

I'm not sure why the image isn't there, but the link works, so that's good. Feel free to link up again if you want the picture to show up!

Kate @ Teaching What Is Good –   – (March 12, 2012 at 8:07 AM)  

It makes me feel VERY humbled. I look at my life and at Jesus and am awed that He would ever choose me and to create me for such a holy and God-honoring task amazes me. Thanks for sharing this post today.

Lisa notes  – (March 12, 2012 at 9:34 AM)  

It's one of God's great mysteries to me, too--how can *I* be a priest? It's crazy. But I trust he knows what he's doing. :-) Thanks for this lesson, Michelle.

Seameada –   – (March 12, 2012 at 11:57 AM)  

I am a priest, a righteous priest. It's not about me, it's about Jesus, when I was born again and his Holy Spirit filled me He (Jesus) imputed His righteousness to me. Read Romans 4:23-25. Romans 4 starts out talking about Abraham and then turns to us who believe now. Vs 23 Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was "imputed" to him. 24 but also for us. It shall be " imputed" to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Could God be any greater, giving us Jesus Righeousness so we can boldy come to the throne of grace.  God is GREAT!!!!!

Jean Wise  – (March 12, 2012 at 2:16 PM)  

I thought my minister growing up WAS God.  and imagine my surprise hearing my dad talk about priests he knew that were alcoholics.  wow I couldn't figure that one out!  We are flawed aren't we?

Now tell me.  While I was on retreat last week and now relooking at things I missed did I catch you resigned  your job last week?????  Planning on writing????? I am so excited for your new adventure.

Laurie Collett –   – (March 12, 2012 at 3:50 PM)  

Praise God that we no longer need a middleman, and that we can boldly approach His throne of grace 24/7! But with privilege comes responsibility -- each of us has the responsibility to do the work He has appointed us. My blog post this week fits in great with this theme!:
Love in Him,
Laurie Collett 

Mary Bonner  – (March 12, 2012 at 4:38 PM)  

We are also "fearfully and wonderfully made" You did a great job with this post Michelle - as always!

soulstops –   – (March 12, 2012 at 4:56 PM)  

Thanks, Michelle, for an encouraging post...so grateful and amazed that God calls us imperfect people to be His priests...so grateful that we have His Spirit to empower us, and we don't do it in our own strength because on my own, I would fail...Blessings to you :)

Harriett –   – (March 12, 2012 at 5:06 PM)  

I always think that bible verse is for others --- :)

Thanks for reminding us that HE knows us -- HE knows what we are capable of -- and we are capable of being what HE wants us to be for HIS glory. That I can't fathom -- and of course, I can't fathom that HE is God who created us -- in all of our complexity.

We can be priests in a lot of ways -- look at you, you are a priest of writing.  :)


Nancy Franson  – (March 12, 2012 at 6:32 PM)  

It's amazing to think that day-in and day-out, we have the privilege of ministering to people in God's name. Whether in pumps and business suits or sneakers and jeans, we get to bring God near to those who don't know him. How cool is that?

By the way, I used to think my grade school janitor and his wife lived in the furnace room of my elementary school. Isn't it funny, the way our brains work when we're little?

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 12, 2012 at 9:50 PM)  

Oh I like that, Lyli: "a new opportunity to be His ambassador in simple ways." So true, isn't it? It's always about something big and grandiose -- sometimes it's just something simple.

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 12, 2012 at 9:51 PM)  

I hear you, Joe - honored and intimidated, deeply thankful yet expectant. I like the way you put that.

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 12, 2012 at 9:53 PM)  

And thank YOU for linking up, lovely friend!

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 12, 2012 at 9:55 PM)  

I think part of me wondered if my priest was God, too, Jean-- although I also thought God lived in the tabernacle where the communion was kept, so I was pretty confused overall!

And yes, eeeeeeekkkkkk! I did officially hand in my resignation last week (although I don't leave until May). I am taking a big and scary leap!

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 12, 2012 at 9:56 PM)  

You are so right, Laurie -- with the absence of a middleman comes more onus on us to step up and take responsibility. I appreciate you pointing that out. Thankfully His grace is more than sufficient to cover us when we drop the responsibility ball!

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 12, 2012 at 9:57 PM)  

And YOU, my dear, are a priest of encouragement (and laughter!!).

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 12, 2012 at 9:58 PM)  

Oh my word, my little kid brain was so topsy-turvy when it came to all things God and religion!

Smiling about the janitor and his wife living in the furnance room...

Michelle DeRusha  – (March 12, 2012 at 9:58 PM)  

And blessings to you, too, sweet friend -- I am grateful and amazed with you.

pastordt –   – (March 12, 2012 at 11:33 PM)  

right on, Michelle. We are all members of the priesthood of believers. And those guys who wear the fancy robes? They're just like the rest of us. The one I memorialize in today's link-up was remarkable for exactly that reason. He was a regular person, called and gifted by God. And so are we all.

Connie@raise your eyes  – (March 13, 2012 at 8:03 AM)  

 "so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him Who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." Oh how I pray to have  my life be about Him and not about me...a daily battle, for sure and certain.

Jean Wise  – (March 13, 2012 at 8:18 AM)  

I am sooooo proud of you for taking the risk to follow your passion.  Way to go Michelle!!   Will keep you and your new chapter in life in my prayers.

mamaabby –   – (March 13, 2012 at 11:05 AM)  

It is amazing to think about...a royal priest.  It always reminds me of  the infinitely grand plans God had for His image-bearers when He created them and how even though everything was messed up from the Fall He has fought and one to redeem us for those grand plans:}

I LOVE how you share your honest impressions of the church, your childhood priest...it always makes me smile:}

OutnumberedMom –   – (March 13, 2012 at 11:58 AM)  

Humbling. That's how it feels. But I raise my hand clad in ragged robes and point to the King.

Laura Boggess  – (March 13, 2012 at 3:34 PM)  

My denomination (PCUSA) takes this very seriously. The Lay Pastor program I've been in for the last three years is the perfect illustration. I've been told that if I choose not to preach they still consider the education valuable because Lay people need to be informed about our faith too. Great post, my friend :)

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