“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10 RSV).
God’s chosen people do not exist for themselves. By the mercy of God we were made His own. By that mercy we have been made His own for a purpose. We do not exist merely to “worship” God in the sense that most of us think of worship. He did not make us His own to cloister ourselves in the security of a “church” sanctuary, separated and aloof from the world. Different versions of the scriptures put this purpose as described by Peter differently…
(ASV) “that ye may show forth the excellencies of him who called you”
(CEV) “Now you must tell all the wonderful things that he has done.”
(ERV) “He chose you to tell about the wonderful things he has done.”
(ESV) “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you”
(GNB) “chosen to proclaim the wonderful acts of God”
(GW) “chosen to tell about the excellent qualities of God”
(KJV) “that ye should shew forth the praises of him”
(LEB) “that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you”
(LITV) “so that “you may openly speak of the virtues” of the One who has called you”
…but they all tell us what our purpose in this world is – it is to tell others about God – what He is like – what He has done – what He is going to do.
This is not a commandment or a “duty” as we think of religious responsibility. It is not something we do because we are supposed to do it. It is something we WILL do because it has become our nature to do it – a nature that is in us because we ARE God’s own special people. Look at how Peter phrased it; You ARE a chosen race, a royal priesthood and a holy nation THAT YOU MAY PROCLAIM His deeds – His wonderful acts – His excellencies – His virtues.
In one way we accomplish this by simply being what God has made us to be. These special people, these marvelously diverse, multinational, multi-cultured, multi-racial, united people who make up the church which Jesus has purchased with His blood, by their very existence as a people are a declaration of the wonderful wisdom of God. This is what Paul had in mind when he wrote that God had brought the Jews and Gentiles together “…so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10).
By the very existence of the combined people, the church is a visible “sermon” when it exists and functions as God intended. Man would never have thought of, nor could he ever have been able to bring about the uniting of people as God has done in Christ. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28 ESV).
It is a wonderful thing today to gather with people of different races, cultures and backgrounds, warmly embracing them as brothers and sisters. We don’t consciously think, “How is this going to look to the world?” or “What will people think if we integrate with these different people?” It is God who does this. And He has been doing it since the church came into existence in the first century. When this happens it is God saying to all creation, “Look at what I have done!” It is a declaration to even the powers that seek to thwart God’s purpose that God rules and accomplishes whatever He wills, though they do their worst against Him.
Another way we tell the world of the wonderful works of God is by speaking of them. Again, this is something we do because it is our nature to do it. The Christian will be like the prophet Jeremiah who said; “If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” (Jeremiah 20:9). “Preaching” (in the sense of telling others) becomes a compulsion with one who knows of God’s wonderful works. He can’t keep his mouth shut! It is as natural – and necessary – with him as breathing!
But isn’t this what we were created for? I know I keep harping on this, but it is about “image” – the image of God. We were created to be like God, but for what reason? Is it just a part of the “benefit package” that came with being human instead of just an animal? Is it just to enhance our self-image – a cosmic ego booster?
Being the pinnacle of creation, were we not made to be like God so that we can be His representatives to all creation? He has made us so that when those who do not know Him look at us – our lives, our character, our attitude, our work – they can see God and seeing Him, believe and turn to Him.
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6).
So to those who are older… tell the next generation of God’s wonderful deeds. And to the younger, by all means listen to the wisdom of those who have seen the wonderful works of God! As you learn of the marvelous deeds of our God who created us and who loves us supremely, tell it to others who can in turn herald the same story to subsequent generations.