What is your view of church, or even, the Church? As we continue our consideration of faithful living in a predominantly faithless culture in the light of 1 Peter, how we see ourselves and our mission is critically important. As Christianity is kicked to society’s curb as a mere relic of a “superstitious” past, the Church has frequently ditched itself in one of two extremes. It either sees its gatherings as ‘holy huddles’ removed from its surrounding culture, or charged with changing culture by either electing the right politicians or becoming one with the culture such that we can effect change by being “relevant”. The questions we face are essentially who are we, and how are we to live now that we are cultural exiles. Or, simply, what is the church and what is its mission. Regardless of whether we are thinking of our church or the whole capital “C” Church, chances are very good our view is too small-minded.
Peter’s primary mission in his letter is to deal with these questions. He writes in 1 Peter 2.9:
“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.”
He tells these ‘elect exiles’ who they are in Christ; a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people of his very own possession. Though marginalized by society, they are God’s marginals! As Peter often does, he shows how Christ brings the fulfillment of promises from long ago. In this case, Peter draws from Is 43:14-21, Exodus 19:5-6, and Hosea1,2. Though dispossessed by society, we are God’s ‘treasured possession’. We are chosen, called out of darkness and into his marvellous light – an new and better exodus!
The purpose of this calling is that we might be “the people whom I formed for myself, that they might declare my praise (Is 43:21)”, or as Peter writes, “those who proclaim the excellencies of him who called you…”. His grace makes much of us; our mission is to make much of him. We are to “proclaim (literally, ‘announce publically’) the excellencies” of Christ: specifically for Peter, his saving work. This has always been the primary mission of the church. The earliest church was called to be his “witnesses” (Acts 1:8), to tell the truth about Christ. And the truth is that he is supremely excellent! He makes us a people, brought out of darkness, who are now called to shine as a light to those still in darkness.
Missional Action Plan: No one relishes feeling like a square peg in a round whole. Meditate upon 1 Peter 2:9 until it seizes and stills your heart. This is a great verse to remind us that even if rejected by our culture, we are accepted by our God! And the message we are given to proclaim is the simple truth of God’s saving gospel through Jesus Christ.
Prepare your heart for Sunday by reading the passage and listening to the songs we’ll sing.