Thursday, February 19, 2009

I was thinking yesterday morning about the "priesthood of believers". Kind of an odd topic I know, but I have frequently heard this term used in the context of not needing church leadership. Something does not ring true in my spirit about this because of the affirmation of church leadership in the scriptures. In a culture of individualism, the "I don't need anyone to help me" perspective can fester and isolate people from the plan of God. In a culture of equality, the "there are no leaders, we can all get to God" perspective can thwart growth and removes protection that Biblical leadership is to provide. (OK, those last two sentences may seem a bit hyperbolic, but I hope you can see where I am going.)

A couple of background statements to help understand where my mind has been....... I believe, as Peter (I Pet 2:9) and John (Rev 1:6, 5:10 and 20:6) said, we are a kingdom of priests and that we do have access, because of what Jesus did, to the very throne room of God. What an AWESOME reality to consider. The whole "access to God" thing has been quite distorted because for many years, people were led to believe that they needed a pastor or priest or reverend as an intermediate between them and God (which is not true or Biblical). To some degree, we are trying to dig out of this historical hole.

On to what I think the point of Peter and John were making...... When I started this exploration, I went back to the Old Testament and looked at what the Levitical priesthood's position was and what the focus of their duties were. Positionally, they were the only ones who could go into the presence of God; and that only once a year. Positionally, they were the only ones who could handle the sacrifices. They were positionally unique. As I began to examine their function or duties (see Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Dueteronemy), that had to do stuff like look a people's skin to see if they were healed, teach people how to access God, review clean and unclean, etc. - all sorts of interesting things that were directly related to the lives of the people around them.

As I thought about this, it became apparent to me that the function of the priest was to lead people to God; to help them understand how to relate to God; to serve as examples of how to live a life that was dedicated to service of the Holy God. They were appointed by God to lead the people to God; not to isolate them from God.

So what does the kingdom of priests that Peter was talking about look like? What is my FUNCTION as a priest? I beleive that my priestly function is no different that an Old Testament priest's: is to lead people to God. Yes, I have the BENEFIT of being able to directly access God, but my FUNCTION is to lead people to a relationship with God. The reason for my priesthood is to serve; serve the people around me by being an example and by leading them to God. At its core, my priesthood is missional; it really is synonomous with the Great Commission that Jesus gave us to go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them to obey the words of God (Matt 28).

I am afraid that what I have latched onto before this time is the BENEFIT of being a priest, without understanding its function. Yes, I do receive the benefit, but I have the responsibility of leading others to a deeper relationship with God.



  1. Hey Sam. I saw your invite in the bulletin so I decided to check out your "pontifications". Looks like fun. I doubt I could ever be faithful to follow up on such an endeavor as this.
    So, how do you go about "lead(ing) others into a deeper relationship with God?"
    The reason I ask is that I appreciate what you are saying but I don't know that I've ever seen it successfully accomplished in many settings. You refer to a culture of Individualism, but it seems that even if someone is tied into a group of believers, even with strong leaders, that person is responsible and ultimately the only one capable of a deeper relationship with Christ.
    Don't get me wrong. I firmly believe that it is our role as spiritual leaders to encourage and let others see Christ's reflection in us, but I believe that there is NOTHING I can do personally to draw others into a closer relationship with Christ. The most effective tool that I can think of is simply being able to sense the Holy Spirit in others and feeling drawn in and wanting "to get me some o dat". You know what I mean??? I don't think formulas work. I'm not even sure that this is where your words were heading, but sometimes I feel like we try to wrap words (teaching, studying, filling in the blanks)) around nothing-ness. Unless people get a sense of the Holy Spirit from us, they can hear words about going deeper, but won't get a true understanding unless they see it...

  2. Glue guy...... Good comment and you are absolutely right. I think that leading someone to a deeper relationship with Christ can only be accomplished by example AND bringing scripture to bear in life situations. We cannot convince someone into the kingdom. There is no formula; it still is choice, but we can, by living an exemplary life, make the choice easier to understand. I think that is why God left us here and gave us the great commission.

    Thanks for the comment...