A Prayer for Our Churches
By Israel Mendez
Reflections on 1 Peter 2:9-11
As we wind down the first month of the new year, our idealistic dreams of “New Year, New Me” and other types of resolutions have probably waned. We love the new year because it symbolizes a new start and hope for something better. We tend to have the mindset, “Well, this past year I didn’t, but this one I will…” and we fill in the blank with whatever resolution or word you might be feeling inspired to accomplish. The reality of our situation is that while we have high ambitions, we tend to fail in the basic disciplines to make small adjustments that would lead us to long-term effectiveness.
This is not only true of our personal lives, but if we are honest, we tend to approach goals for our churches the same way. We cast a big vision that we feel the Lord has given us and pray fervently to see it brought to pass. We aim for more baptisms, higher Sunday school attendance, and more students in our youth group; we set our goals for our missions offerings, strive to come up with solutions to better make disciples, and so much more. While these are noble ambitions, my prayer is that before we continue in the cyclical pattern of failed resolutions and goals, we will center our hearts around a few simple truths.
1 Peter 2:9-11 (NLT)
9 “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests,[a] 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.
10 Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people.
Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.
11 Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.”
Peter, one of the key leaders in the early church, is writing this letter to various churches scattered throughout Asia Minor that are being persecuted and facing trials and hardships. But he begins by reminding them that they are God’s chosen people. Peter reminds the believers of their hope of eternal life, their inheritance in Christ, their salvation in Christ, the love that Jesus has for them, and the fact that they have hope and have been born again, and charges them to live holy. He exhorts them to get rid of their evil behavior, to do away with hypocrisy, jealousy, and unkind speech. Basically, Peter does this: He reminds the believers of their call to be different, a call to be Holy.
I want to give a pastoral charge or exhortation of sorts to remind us to be holy and, in typical Baptist fashion, do so in three points. My prayer for us as we lead our churches is that we will be people of praise, purpose, and power.
People of Praise
Peter leads into verse 9 by showing the church how people have rejected Jesus and says, “But You are not Like that. You are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a Holy nation, God’s very own possession.”
This should cause us to be people of praise. That God himself has chosen us for His purposes, not for any good we have done of our own, but simply because He loves us. God Himself, the creator of all things good, right, and Holy, has called and chosen you to be His son or daughter. Now you are God’s people! Now you have received mercy! Praise is crucial to the life of the church!
If we claim to be followers of Jesus, praise should overflow from our hearts, and whatever may come in life, the fact that we are chosen by God should bring joy to our hearts, praise in our lips, and thanksgiving that ought to sustain us to glory!
This idea isn’t found in the New Testament alone; Peter uses this language that is similar to the language found in Deuteronomy 7, where God refers to the people of Israel in the same way. He refers to them as a chosen people and treasured possession. Old Testament theologian Jack Deere highlights this reality by saying, “God had selected Israel as His means of sanctifying the earth. Thus they were holy (set apart for God’s special use) and were His treasured possession.”
The same is true of you and me. We are set apart for His special use, a means of sanctifying the earth, or as Peter writes in verse 9, “as a result, you can show others the goodness of God.” Our identity as sons and daughters of God should cause us to praise, which leads us to show the world who God is.
The New Testament theologian Thomas Schreiner writes, “The church of Jesus is a people now set apart for the Lord, enjoying his special presence and favor.”
As we enjoy the presence and favor that God gives us as sons and daughters, our identity comes with a purpose.
*The views expressed are those solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pastor’s Common