(Sermon Series: Chosen Generation)
1 Peter 2:4-12
4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 7 Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” 8 and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for. 9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Everything that is or has been created is created to meet a need and also to be a blessing to its creator. Blackberrys, smart phones, knooks, automobiles, furniture, homes, etc. have all been created to meet a need, but they also have been built to be a blessing to their creators. Anything you and I can think of that has been created serves a dual purpose, a) to meet a need, and b) to bless its creator. Christians are no different, we are created to serve, and we are built to bless our creator.
In verse four of the second chapter of first Peter, the apostle states, “As you come to Him.” Any article that you and I can think of started out as something else. Before a chair became a chair, it started out as a piece of wood. Someone took the wood and transformed it into a chair. Before it became a chair, it was just a piece of wood. Someone had to see the potential in the piece of wood and then take the initiative to mold and shape it into something useful. I find it interesting that a chair never gets tired of being a chair. Yet, people get tired of working. A chair never thinks about the weight it has to support, or the way it can sometimes be misused, or complain when it is not being used. But, it is there when needed and can be used in whatever capacity is required.
A job is a means to an end. However, when we feel useful within that job it ceases to be a job and it becomes a service we are performing. Only the maker of a thing knows why that thing was created. I have had many jobs in my life and most of them were just that a job, but when I came to Him I discovered that there is more to life than just working. I discovered that the essence of life and fulfillment in life could be attained when I feel useful in what ever I am doing.
The funny thing is that it took heartbreak, heartache, and disappointment to drive me to Him. I do not know of anyone who when they were twelve woke up one day and said I cannot wait to be a Christian. People come to Him because of a need that needs to be met, or a void that needs to be filled. When we are physically sick we go see a doctor. When we are emotionally imbalanced we go see a therapist. Where do we go when we are spiritually sick? We go to Him. Recently, I had a watch that Jill gave me as a gift. It stopped working and so I put it down and started using my cell phone to tell time. That worked for a little while, but I had one of those phones that did not have a vibrate setting and because of this I could not use the phone in the classroom. The one place where I needed to be aware of the time was in the classroom. Problems will always occur when we opt for shortcuts or use things for purposes other than the reason they were created. The cell phone was created to be a means of communication. Even though it has the capacity to tell time, that is not its primary function.
When something is not functioning properly you do not put it down or throw it away, you take it in for repair. When we are not functioning properly it is a sign that we are in need of repair and need to go to Him. I had a computer and it was not working properly, and so, I initially decided to get rid of it and get a new one, until someone suggested that I get it checked out. Come to find out there was some dust that had accumulated inside and that was the cause of the problem. The tech blew the dust out, wiped it down and it started working again. Just like my computer, when we are not working properly we need to be spiritually opened up so Christ the technician can make some adjustments, replace some parts, and clean the dust that has accumulated inside us out to get us working properly again. What some are willing to throw away God sees as precious and in need of repair.
Peter goes on to point out that “We are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” What do you do when you find yourself in a place where your skill-set does not match the demands that are being placed on you? What do you do when you find yourself in a situation where the way you have been programmed does not allow you to perform the functions being asked of you? Some will opt for changing their surroundings. When things get tough on a job people leave. When things get tough in a relationship people walk out. According to Peter we need an upgrade. Everything that is created at some point will be in need of an upgrade. Jill has taught me the importance of having a relationship with the manufacturer of things we purchase. She takes the time to complete the product registration card and then sends it to the manufacturer. The benefit of this is two-fold, on the one hand there are something’s only the manufacturer can fix because they are the only ones who understand the intricacies and internal workings of the product. On the other hand the more people complain about the same problem it alerts the manufacturer of the need for improvements to the product.
The goal is to operate better and become more productive. The question is how do we accomplish this? Peter says, “We are being built,” he does not say we have been built. The implication is that the building process God through Jesus Christ started when we came to Him is an ongoing process. It does not stop. Part of the reason it does not stop is because we live in a world that is ever changing and the demands that are placed on us are constantly changing. If we have been programmed for word processing and we are asked to perform excel functions we either have to acquire the application to perform that function or risk becoming obsolete. In order to upgrade something has to be sacrificed. Our old programming needs to be changed and new programming and skill sets added that would allow us to perform other functions. The problem with upgrading is that it requires us to step outside of our comfort zone. Upgrading requires us to go to places we have never been and perform tasks and functions that we have never done before. Upgrading requires us to take risks and chances.
If we think about it we are taking a bigger risk by not upgrading. Peter says, those who stay the same stumble and fall. “They stumble because they disobey the message.” One of the things about electronic devices today is they come equipped with error messages. Whenever there is a problem with the machine or we are asking it to perform a function that it may not be equipped to perform it will give us an error message. A failure to follow the instructions in the message impedes our progress. Life is the same way. Whenever we find ourselves in situations and circumstances that frustrate us it is life’s way of sending us an error message. We are either approaching the situation the wrong way, have the wrong attitude for the situation, or are not equipped to handle that particular situation. Remember we are being built, and so when we receive an error message or are frustrated by whatever we are going through, dealing with, or facing, we need to pull out our product registration card and contact the manufacturer immediately for further instructions. The bottom line is that error messages indicate that something needs to be changed within us so that we can continue to function and be useful. In fact, that’s what an upgrade is – an internal adjustment for the purposes of operating better within our environment.
As God through Jesus Christ upgrades us we learn and discover things about ourselves. One of the things we learn is that everything that is created has more than one function. The text says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” When we read the Old Testament we see that the priest’s performed more than one function in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. Essentially, the priest’s duties can be summarized under three headings they served, taught, and interceded on behalf of the people before God. Peter points out that every member of the Body of Christ is a priest or a minister. In other words, every member of the Body of Christ should be part of some ministry within God’s house. The truth is when we find our ministry we will also find our blessing. A ministry is different from a job. A job helps me, but a ministry helps someone else.
Ministry is transformative. Ministry not only transforms the person on the receiving end, but it also transforms the minister. In verse five Peter referred to us as a holy priesthood, but in verse nine the holy priesthood that received its upgrade became a royal priesthood and a holy nation. By verse nine those who came to Him now know who they are, an upgraded people who are equipped to function in the changing landscape and environment they live in because they belong to God and are being used by God. The priesthood became a nation. As a result of a commitment to God’s service, God elevated them and then God increased their numbers by multiplying them. Difficult situations and circumstances become easier to handle and deal with when we have help. When you and I are in the midst of struggle and hardship it can be painful and depressing, but if we can find our ministry God will supply our needs.
Several weeks ago I was talking to two young ladies and one of them shared with me that one of the reasons people do not do more in the church is because they are afraid of commitment. I fully understand how challenging the times that we live in are, but I also understand that we all will either need the presence of God or the provisions of God at some point. This text lets us know that it is through service to God that we find and receive our blessings from God. It’s like a bank - you have to put something in to get something out. If we have not made any deposits (service), how can we expect to get any withdrawals (blessings)?
The holy priesthood became a royal priesthood and a holy nation because they were committed to serving God, collaborating with God, functioning for God and ultimately being a blessing to God. They understood that people may use me, and people may even abuse me, but is par for the course because I am not serving them, but I am blessing God. When we bless God through our service, God in turn bless us. When attitude is that whatever we do we are doing it for God, we find that all of our needs are met, our goals are realized, and resources are always available. When we pour ourselves into whatever we do for God’s sake we make room for God to pour additional blessings into our lives, our careers, and our families. When we are commitment to blessing God as husband’s, wives, and employees we declare to God and the world that we are grateful to have been chosen and that we know who we are – we have been created to serve and built to bless.