We have noted previously that we worship for the sake of the world. Among other things, our liturgy is “public service” for the well-being of our society. This important public duty is what “the priesthood of believers” is all about.
In the Old Testament the role of the priest was to stand between God and the Israelites. They would bring God’s grace and his word to the people. They would also bring the people’s prayers and sacrifices to God. They were mediators, go betweens. But now the former priesthood has been set aside because Jesus has become our perfect high priest. He is the one who eternally mediates between us and God. That means the church has no need for an earthly priesthood – Jesus is all we need.
But the unbelieving world still needs a priesthood! And that’s our role as the “priesthood of believers”. The priesthood of believers is what happens when the church shares in Christ’s priestly ministry for the sake of the world. On the one hand, we represent the world and all its needs to God. On the other hand, we bring God and his grace to the world. We are mediators, go betweens. The priesthood of believers describes not so much what happens within the church, among ourselves, but how we as a body relate to the world. We are not the church’s priesthood, but the world’s priesthood.
The bible describes our priestly work in many ways, often in terms of “offering”, which was the main task of the priesthood. We offer our bodies to God for holy service in the world (Romans 6:13; 12:1). We offer praise to God on behalf of all people (Hebrews 13:15; 1 Peter 2:9). We proclaim God’s grace to all people (Romans 15:16; 1 Peter 2:9). We offer our prayers for the needs of all people (Revelation 5:8; 8:4). We offer our money and material goods to help others (Philippians 4:18; Hebrews 13:16). This priestly work begins in our worship, and flows out into the world as we go our way.
1 Peter 2:9 describes this awesome privilege: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Question: For whom will you use your priesthood this week?
A series of studies on the Liturgy – Linards Jansons