If you described a what it meant to be a priest your description would depend on your past experiences. Some would imagine a clerical collar and a cross. Others may imagine a wizened old man ready with a word of encouragement and advise. A priest is a go-between—going between people and God. He deals with sin and filth, expounds scripture and brings fallen man before holy God. In the Old Covenant God set up a priesthood among his covenant people. In the New Covenant all of his covenant people are priests.
1 Peter 2:4f, “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—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.”
1 Peter 2:9, “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 and into his wonderful light.”
Like the priests of old reconciling national Israel to God through the blood of goats and sheep, you offer reconciliation through the lamb of God. Centuries ago, well-meaning, but misguided men tried to protect the church from heresy by taking this idea away. The church declared that only some Christians were priests and that only they could teach, serve the Lord’s Supper and a host of other ministries. There was no support for this in the New Testament so they fell back on the Levitical Priesthood and tradition. Rather than protecting the church she was pushed from the light into the shadows.
Hebrews 10:1 says: “The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves.” The church exchanged the beautiful light of the priesthood of all believers for authoritarianism and institutionalized heresy. In doing so they created a subculture within the church with little knowledge of scripture and no authority. The apostles created the church as a body of priests each and every one knowing the word, reaching their neighbor, baptizing converts and planting churches around the world. The church instead remade itself into two bodies—the clergy with all authority and the laity who were to submit to and support the clergy.
This does not mean there are no leaders over the church, but that these leaders are not above their people but servants of them. They are to serve them by teaching them to be ministers. The local church leadership is God’s training force called and specially equipped by God to teach the rest of the church to be priests to minister to a lost and dying world.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ then you are ordained into the priesthood. It is time to prepare for this ministry. Wrestle with the Word of God and get to know it. Not just superficially, but deeply drinking of its waters. Only in this way can you be ready to serve your Lord and fulfill your calling.
Yesterday: Building His Temple
Tomorrow: Building His People