“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:9-12).
Peter is referencing Exodus 19:5-6 when he refers to us as a royal priesthood and a holy nation. God rescued Israel from their captivity in the Exodus, gave them the law and gave them a mission. God called the nation of Israel to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Israel was located in a central location, between the two great nations of the ancient world, and communications and trade had to pass through their land. God strategically placed them where they were, so that the nations would know him. What an awesome mission! To be tasked by God to be the visible and tangible representation of him on earth.
Peter identifies us, the New Covenant people, with the task given to Israel, that we too would represent Christ to the world. This task starts with our identity; who we are. We are not called to live a certain way to attain this identity, but called to live in light of our new identity. We, who were once not a people, but are now a people, are called to an extraordinary task; the task of representing God to those around us.
We aren’t in one strategic geographical place, but are living as “sojourners and exiles” scattered throughout the world. We are a people made from many peoples. People called one, out of many ethnic and cultural backgrounds. One people that we may proclaim the excellencies of our Lord with our words and actions. Our church is one expression of this people, who were once-not-a-people, in a particular time and place. We are in Wausau, and surrounding areas, living as sojourners and exiles. This isn’t our permanent home, but God has us here, for this very time, that we may bear witness to who he is.
Oftentimes this looks fairly ordinary. Peter tells us in the rest of the passage commands like: obey those in authority, love your family; love those in your community. Other times it means suffering unjustly while entrusting yourself to God. This is a reminder to us that we are called to the extraordinary, yet ordinary life. Our cars still get flats. We still have health problems. We are called to live where we are right now, with the job we have right now, and follow the Lord, that those around would see our lives and glorify God.