There’s an amazing verse in 1 Peter that we’ve quoted as a power verse for many centuries. It’s in chapter 2, verse 9. Here’s what it says:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
If you have ever wondered how God feels about you, this is the verse that should encourage you the most. Verses that talk about how much God loves us, and how he is for us, and how he has known us from the very beginning, these are really great verses, don’t get me wrong, but this verse proves how far he was willing to go for us, to really show exactly what he thinks about us. That verse starts off with the best encouragement that God chose you. Doesn’t it feel good to be wanted? And spice that up with the fact that it is God who is the one who wants us.
But then there’s this phrase that we’ve heard in church for years, a royal priesthood. This is a super churchy term and it might seem hard to process at first but it is really amazing that God calls us a royal priesthood.
See in the Old Testament the roles of king and priest were separated. I did a podcast before on why that is the case, so check that our later. But the king and priest have very different roles. One is about governance and the other is about morality and spirituality, not just laws and rules, but relationship. So a part of this verse is God telling us that we are both kings and priests, how God intended us to be in the first place, as we mimic Jesus who reunited the role of king and priest himself.
But if you look deeper, there is some real encouragement to be found here. We are royal priests. We are royal because we belong to God now. See, God could have just thrown us a bone by saving us and then going along his way. He could have pulled a Good Samaritan on us and grabbed us out of the ditch, paid for our restoration, and kept going along his path. But he didn’t do that. When we said yes to God, we didn’t just get his favor, we got his name. He adopted us into his family. We are his now, sons and daughters of the living God. He wants us as more than just people he redeemed, but family he adores. So we are royal now. We are sons and daughters of the king.
But we are priests too. The priests were the only ones in the Old Testament who had access to God. They were the ones who performed spiritual rituals, offered ones who interacted one on one with God. If you were a priest, you were set apart for God and had access to him that everyone else didn’t.
So on top of royalty, he has given us priesthood. What does that mean? It means that he wanted more than you just being family. He wanted you close to him constantly. You ever had a family member that you didn’t want to hang around? God wants us as family, but he wants us to be with him constantly.
How incredible is it that it wasn’t enough for God to save us, and it wasn’t enough that he wanted us to be a part of his family, but that he wants us to constantly be with him, in his throne room, near him always.
That is what it means to be a royal priesthood. It is more than fancy church words. It is more than proof God loves us. It is evidence that God wants us to be family, to be close, to be in intimate relationship with him.
I am overwhelmed by that fact, and as a result, I find it easy to love and worship a God so good as he is, a god who wants me to be a royal priest.