I recently shared a Google document with our Activ8Her chapter coordinators and was surprised to receive word from a few they had been denied access. It left me a bit confused; why was it possible for some to retrieve the document, while others could not. Each one had been given the same link, however access was granted to some, and denied to others.
Same link; same access. Seems about right–right? Sure — until there is a glitch in the system. When that happens, it becomes necessary to figure out the glitch and repair it.
A few months ago, I was made aware there was a glitch in my system in need of repair. The revelation came as I was listening to Marty Solomon from BEMA Discipleship describe the responsibilities of the priests. The tribe of Levi had been set apart by God to be his priests (Numbers 8:14). As I listened to his explanation from the book of Leviticus, (a book of the Bible I rarely found myself reading) I realized the glitch was based in a lack of understanding and the Lord was ready to repair it.
Specifically, a lack of understanding for priesthood, which would eradicate my ability to fully adopt the identity I have in Christ – the kingdom identity. Peter writes, ".... you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9, NLT).
The verse seems pretty self explanatory; what God spoke to Moses in Exodus 19, Peter now speaks to us. But, how have I (you) become part of a royal priesthood? Honestly, I've read that for years and never fully understood it. The priests had a role and responsibility to the people when they came to the temple to present their offering to the Lord. It was unclear to me how this now pertained to the New Testament believer. Thankfully, Marty's explanation from the podcast provided insight into the four-fold ministry of priesthood, bringing clarity to Peter's declaration of kingdom identity as a royal priest.
Marty explained that from the Old Testament book of Leviticus:
1) A priest puts God on display. How did they do this? They dressed different; they act different because they have been set apart. God intended for a priest to stand out. He intended for a priest to bring God glory.
2) A priest was to help navigate the atonement of the people. It was up to the priest to make sure the correct offering was brought before the Lord. And the priest needed to make sure he was right before the Lord before doing so.
3) A priest was the one to intercede on behalf of others. Before Jesus, they stood in the gap and made petitions for the people. The priest then brought back the instruction God had given to him for the people.
4) A priest gave the resources to those in need. They took everything that came into the temple as offerings and then, from the surplus, they were supposed to pass it along to those in need.
God's heart for his people has always been for them to be his kingdom of priests. He told the people through Moses, "Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation" (Exodus 19:5-6a, NLT). Then, like most things, there was a glitch in the system.
Thankfully, God is better at repairing a glitch in the system than Google is. He knew how to restore access. Enter Jesus, our High Priest. And now, "you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God" (1 Peter 2:5, NLT).
What are the spiritual sacrifices that please God? Let's compare our life as a kingdom priest with those of the Old Testament and consider:
1) Do I put God on display or do I look like everyone else? Is there any difference in my character and conduct than those who do not profess to be a Christ-follower? Perhaps a spiritual sacrifice is removing myself from cliques and activities that bring him displeasure.
2) Do I know how to explain to others how they can be right with God? There was a moment in history when Jesus brought atonement for our sin and made it possible for those who believe in Christ for salvation to access the throne. "Come boldly to the throne of God" the writer of Hebrews tells us (4:16). Is it a spiritual sacrifice to overcome fear and speak the truth about Jesus to the family member, coworker or stranger when God presses you to do so.
3) Do I intercede on behalf of others? A difficult question to ponder is how often do we follow the example of Jesus and advocate for others to find Christ? Are we asking God to help people find their way into the kingdom or do we spend our time listing the reasons why they aren't fit to enter? A spiritual sacrifice intercedes for others—not my will, but yours, Lord.
4) Finally, the priests' role was to distribute resources to those in need. "The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed" (Proverbs 11:25, NLT). A good way to measure if our mindset is on kingdom or empire is in our giving. Do I give willingly to others when God asks? This is spiritual sacrifice.
Jesus fixed the glitch in a system that had pushed people away from the place God intended for them to be, and made it possible to #restoreaccess. He provided any who call on His name the gift of salvation and all access pass. The veil was torn (Matthew 27:51). The dividing wall destroyed (Ephesians 2:14). We are now holy and set apart. We can be obedient to his Word and a keeper of his covenant. A special treasure. A kingdom of priests.
And when kingdom people rise up and walk in this role others will be transformed by the goodness of God. The same God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light is calling others, too. Let's lead the way and #restoreaccess
We are kingdom priests. Let's go and live like one.