I am a protestant by choice, and the reasons are so multifaceted that it cannot be done justice in this space.
The biblical truth that all who have come to Jesus by faith are priests to God, is glorious and sadly under practiced by those who align themselves with protestant churches of all denominations.
What is prompting such thoughts from me today? Part of it is the incessant critique of spiritual leaders by church members or the Twitter mob for how they are grinding to maintain unity among a multitude of valid positions in such a difficult year with the promise of more difficulty on the horizon.
As we have seen over the past weeks, there are leaders who have sinned mightily who are public figures, and they deserve the critique they are receiving. I believe the great majority of Christian leaders are unknown and are faithful and are trying to keep their churches together on mission in spite of the constant narrative barrage that is being used by the enemy to rip God’s people apart.
When I hear murmuring, I am taken back to the truth of 1 Peter 2:9 (ESV), “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.”
We are all very happy to avoid hell through faith alone in Christ alone, but an eternal escape from hell is not the sole purpose for which Jesus saved a people for himself. No. He saved a people, among many glorious reasons, to make them priests of God who delight in God and have a word of proclaiming his excellencies to one another and the world so that all may see and know who Jesus is and be saved and live on mission together.
How can we exercise priestly responsibility today?
- Be in covenant fellowship with a local church, and attend regularly in whatever means you can attend based on what you need. Most fellowships have about every offering for this Covid-19 sason.
- Inside of your covenant fellowship, be in whatever form of discipleship relationship OR small group your church advocates for disciple making and mission mobilization. We are the land of the large here in America, and even the smallest of our churches need some form of one to one discipleship or small group work to allow everyone to know others and serve each other well. One person or a team of persons simply can’t do it all, and biblical leadership is not designed by God to do it all. Jesus saved a “body” to do it all.
- Biblical leadership is clear and definite with tasks and responsibilities, but the weight of the priesthood is not held in that leadership, therefore, don’t expect your church’s leaders to do what you should do in maintaining mission and unity and priests of God.
- If your leaders have labored to make a way for everyone, and you find yourself in some minority position in unity, don’t get in your feelings about it. Be thankful you can be in unity amid diversity and keep some manner of forward movement in such backward times.
- If your leaders have labored to make a way for everyone, and you find yourself in some majority position in unity, don’t get prideful. Rather, tremble. Be thankful you can be in unity amid diversity and keep some manner of forward movement in such backward times.
- Practice and demand emotionally healthy reciprocal relationships. If you have a circle of friends, co-laborers, leaders, small group folks, take the initiative to reach out even to leaders who may be in that circle, and expect that people should reciprocate. If people won’t give you time or even dignify you with a response, you don’t owe them friendship. You do owe them dignity as image bearers, but not fully invested friendship. So, invest in those who want to invest in you, and don’t fret other people’s inability to be healthy relationally. This one is tricky for some people because, if you are in the south, you may confuse southern nicety with biblical fidelity, and the two are not the same. You may have to let the Scriptures teach you about this, but invest the time in learning it. It’s in the Manual, and it will preserve your soul. It is no sin to be emotionally and relationally healthy.
- Look for ways to encourage not critique. There is no spiritual gift of ciritique or biblical command to criticize, rather do 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV), “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
- Lead or lead with, to the best of your ability, those around you to be about the mission that rises above quarrelsome opinions.
- Pray. Prayer is the engine that gets kingdom work done.
Be sober-minded about your priesthood in Christ, and practice some of the examples I’ve shared here, and perhaps a few more THE Great High Priest and Shepherd of our souls may give you in the secret place of your priestly work of prayer.
Let’s get after it!