KEY THOT: We are not called to be individual Christians, with our own private hotlines to God, worshipping God in the privacy of our own homes having no need for other Christians. Instead, we have been called to become part of a new corporate entity, God’s faith community. Peter calls this new corporate entity the “chosen race”, “royal priesthood”, “holy nation” and a “people for his own possession”. The end game is that we may together “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (v.9). So, as Christians, we have been called out of this world for a corporate mission, not to enjoy God and His blessings in the privacy of our own homes, but to proclaim God’s excellencies as a people of God. And this incorporation took place at our baptism: “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free” (1 Corinthians 12:13). Let’s retrace this process of transformation from individualism to corporatism:
- “chosen race”: Firstly, we didn’t become a Christian because we “chose Jesus”. We didn’t choose to be a Christian. We were chosen to be one--and for a purpose. Jesus says: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (John 15:16). So, if we didn’t choose Jesus, then we cannot do as we please. We have to become part of his larger vision for calling us to become part of his new corporate entity as his “chosen race”.
- “a royal priesthood”: Once we are incorporated through baptism into this new divine corporate entity, our first call is to minister to God as His royal priesthood. It is royal because we are ministering to the King of kings and it is a priesthood because the main function of the priesthood is ministry to God by offering of sacrifices of worship. In the OT, the sacrifices were bulls, goats and lambs. But today, we offer “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (v.5). So, we are called firstly to become worshipers, offering to God our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. In fact, Jesus says God is seeking for worshipers first, rather than workers: “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23).
We are created for worship. If we don’t worship God, we will worship something else in His place—be it music, money, the American Idols or the Korean movie heart-throbs. The spiritual void in us can only be filled by God and that ought to be the top priority in our experience of God. In heaven, worship will be our main preoccupation. If we don’t enjoy singing praise to God now, we are not ready for heaven: “Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped” (Rev 5:11-14).
- “a holy nation”: The word “holy” means set apart for God. It also means to be spiritually, morally and ethically different from the world. When the church of Jesus Christ is holy, they are living a quality of life of integrity and honesty that is distinct from the spiritual and moral corruption around them. So, towards God we are priests but towards the world we are to be a holy people. We are not to compromise with evil—spiritual, moral or ethical. In our relationships, in our business dealings, in our work ethics, we must strive to honour God with our integrity and honesty. For this to happen, we need to be steeped in God’s word and be filled with the Spirit. We can’t attain this lifestyle through psychological therapy, psychiatric medication or self-improvement or leadership seminars. We can only become holy when we are filled with God’s holy Spirit and God’s holy Word.
- “a people for his possession”: Once we become Christians and incorporated into the Church of Jesus Christ, we are no longer the “masters of our own fate”; we become servants or slaves of Jesus Christ, created in Christ Jesus to do his “good works”. We are no longer here to seek our own’s promotion but Christ’s promotion: “He must increase but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Paul says, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (1 Cor 6:19-20). In other words, we are now owned by God—not only our body but everything that go with it to sustain it—our money, house, possessions and gifts. We no longer live for ourselves, but we live for Christ: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
May God restore our corporate vision and help us become part of his corporate entity, called the Church of Jesus Christ so that we may proclaim His excellencies before the world. Amen.