My friend Eric at “A Pilgrim’s Progress” just finished a great series on the new covenant priesthood under Jesus Christ. He wrote four posts describing this priesthood: “Priesthood and Responsibility,” “Priesthood and Self-Sacrifice/Service,” “Priesthood and Reciprocity,” and “Priesthood and Intimacy.”
Eric began this series with this statement: “All Christians are an equal part of the priesthood of all believers. This is both a great privilege and a great responsibility.” In that statement, he linked to 1 Peter 2:5-9 in which Peter describes the church like this: “You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices sacceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5 ESV)
As Eric works through the various privileges and responsibilities related to the priesthood of Jesus Christ, something becomes fairly obviously. In many ways, we still want to HAVE a priesthood and not BE a priesthood.
Every religion on earth has a priesthood of some kind – a special class of people who are somehow closer to the divine, are endowed with special privileges, and are given special responsibilities.
Interestingly, in the New Testament, the role, privileges, and responsibilities of the priesthood are given to everyone who follows Jesus Christ – that is, to all Christians. There is no longer a special class of people who are somehow closer to the divine, are endowed with special privileges, and are given special responsibilities.
But, we still want there to be a priest class. We want to give that role, those privileges, and those responsibilities to someone else. We want them to do the priest stuff for us while we live as normal non-priestly people.
Unfortunately – or fortunately, depending on how you look at it – you cannot give away (or sell) your priestly role, privileges, and responsibilities in God’s family. And, by the way, no one can take them away from you either.
So, read through Eric’s posts, and tell him what you think.
Then, I’m hoping you’d be willing to answer a few questions for me:
1) Why do you think people want to give up their role, privileges, and responsibilities as a priest?
2) Why do you think people want to take the role, privileges, and responsibilities of a priest from others?
3) What practical steps would you recommend to someone who wants to start living as a priest?