DAILY DEVOTION - MAY 17
Listen to excerpts from today's daily devotion on this video.
This Daily Devotion is from A Living Hope, by Sarah Viggiano Wright, published by Bible Study Media, and made available to us through Presbyterian Women.
“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.”
1 Peter 2:9
Growing up, I bought into the stereotypical “princess culture,” where girls are loved because they are beautiful and boys “come alive” as heroes as soon as the princess comes into their life. I imagined that marrying a prince would not only be a dream come true, but that being a princess would mean I wouldn’t have to lift a finger for the rest of my life! As shallow as this understanding is, this is what I thought being royalty was all about—being served.
However, God has something different to say about our being royal and how we participate in his royal kingdom.
Verse 9 of 1 Peter 2 starts off with “But you are...,” majorly shifting from the challenging topics of verses 6–8 to the gracious language of election, deliverance, and mission for God’s people. My translation is: “But you [all] are a chosen family, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession...” Peter confirms Christians are holy in both identity and action with these descriptions. These gracious, loving, God-given titles come both from Exodus 19:1–6, in which God addressed post-Egyptian-exile Israel at Mt. Sinai, and from Isaiah 43, in which God promised to reestablish Israel after the Babylonian exile.
Why are both these exiles important to note? Peter’s audience is made up of sojourners. He is reminding them that this is not the first time God’s people have been displaced and lacked a physical land to call home. This is also not the first time God has had to remind his people of who they are so they can remain distinct in a foreign place. God’s people are being called once more to live out their identity in a hostile world and be his ambassadors in ministry.
Again, God is reminding us through Peter of what is true about who we are. And this string of identifiers is not just an esteem-booster; it is a statement of purpose. We are a treasured family who is to be holy and royal.
First, we are a treasured, elect race (family, people, nation) because of our spiritual heritage. We are also a holy people, as our family business is holiness (see Week Two, Day 3). As a people, we are “chosen...royal...holy” and treasured by the God who collected us. These terms would have been words of comfort to a people ostracized by the world around them. God possesses them, not as objects to own, but as treasures he redeemed. In Isaiah 43:3, God refers to himself as Israel’s Savior, and continues in verse 4 “...Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you....” God has called us by name, and we are his (Isaiah 43:1).
Do you feel the Lord’s love for his people—his desire for them to know they belong to him and that they are precious? There is no piece of land that can confirm our status before God as powerfully as these words of union: “I have called you by name, you are mine.” As silly as this example sounds, I am no less a Steelers fan for living outside of Pittsburgh than I would be if I lived in the city. My love, relationship, and devotion to my team transcends my location. With these assurances that these elect exiles belong to God no matter where they find themselves, Peter is encouraging them to be who they are by living out holiness as their way of life.
Next, we are to be holy priests. The concept of God’s people being priests was established in Exodus 19:1–6 after they were delivered from Egypt. They were going to be wandering in the wilderness amongst other nations and, therefore, they had to be consecrated and holy in order to represent Yahweh to the world. Similarly, in Jesus, all Christians are to operate as God’s holy royal priesthood, which can also be translated as “the king’s priesthood.” God’s people belong to his kingdom and share in his sovereign rule. Thus, there are some truly lovely aspects of royalty—true royalty in God’s kingdom.
During the time of the Exodus, God’s people wandered for forty years. But his presence was with them the whole time, securing them, providing for them, nourishing them, and sustaining them. He ruled over them and defended them as their Lord and their King. A king is someone who has authority to rule and reign over a group of people. But God sets an unusual precedence as King—he is a servant king.
In Mark 10:45, Jesus said that he, the “Son of Man,” which is a messianic title Jesus used for himself, “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” How does Jesus serve us as our king? He reigns on high, he returns us to himself, he rules over us and defends us, he restrains evil, and he conquers all his and our enemies. This is the King who came from on high, but made himself lowly enough to be sacrificed on the cross. Jesus came down to take the form of a servant. But, after the finished work of the resurrection, Christ ascended and is seated at “the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33, Matthew 26:64), meaning that he is in a position of authority with the Father over all creation.
Jesus’ resurrection proved that he was the Son of God and that he is rightfully enthroned as King over creation. Jesus has power over death and hell, and all who are united to him will be raised with him. He conquered our greatest enemies.
So, for me to have my “dream come true” of becoming a princess, I have to be like my King. I have to be a servant, not someone who is waited on hand-and-foot. I have to lead a life of service and generosity, being an active ambassador of goodness. I have to tend to my duties of practicing holiness and justice; I need to defend those I’m called to love. I am to combat the sin in my life and extend grace to those undergoing their own battles. Instead of ball gowns and grandiose beauty, I am to be clothed in mercy, donning “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12, NIV). This way of life is part of a wholehearted devotion and grateful allegiance to the High King.