Our beliefs about who we are, dramatically impact how we behave. In the last blog I talked about who we are as people God has chosen to bear much fruit. We are the chosen ones. Today I want to focus on another aspect of identity – who you are as a royal priest of God.
1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”- NIV
It’s important to understand the major shift Jesus brought about when he went to the cross and rose again. He destroyed the old system of Levitical priesthood and established a new system where all who followed Him would be royal priests. In the new covenant you are not physically born into the priesthood. Instead, when you receive Jesus, you are spiritually born into this status.
A Spiritual Caste Through Spiritual Birth
For years I lived in India. There, people of high caste birth have certain privileges. In Hindu society there are specific things only Brahmins are allowed to do. You can not become a Brahmin through study or effort – you must be born a Brahmin. It is not that different from the Levitical tribe. You could not become a Levite either. You had to be born a Levite.
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are born again. Our spiritual birth is into a new family – a family of priests. We are priests of God because of our spiritual birth.
Being A Royal Priest And What That Means
Not only are we priests, we are royal priests! I’ve had the privilege of visiting Thailand often, a land that honors and loves their king. In the Thai language, they even have a whole different way of speaking used to address a member of the royal family. The royals receive great respect and carry influence and authority. It’s been a good picture of what this verse might mean when it calls us a “royal priesthood.” We now have a place of favor, privilege and authority as children of the King of Kings. I am a member of the royal family. I’m not a nobody, I’m a royal priest. And so are you!
What does this practically mean for us as we think about pursuing disciple making movements? Its a very big deal! It means that there is no type of spiritual work we can not do. We have been given authority by God to establish His kingdom, to make disciples and to do His work as His representatives here on earth. The same is true for all those we train as disciples. We (and they) can share the gospel, heal the sick, baptize, serve the Lord’s supper- we are royal priests.
Influence Of Our Former Religious Worldview
While we know this in our heads, often our behavior sadly reflects an old covenant type of belief system. Our worldview is deeply influenced by Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam or whatever system we have come out of…even traditional Christianity. In those religious systems, only special people are qualified to do spiritual tasks. Only levites, brahmins, monks, imams, pastors or priests are to do the spiritual work of the ministry. Jesus came to abolish that old covenant and bring in something new.
Why are we so quick to go back to the old?
Our new belief has not gone from our head, to our heart, to our behavior.
If we want to see rapidly multiplying disciple making movements, we must apply the understanding that every disciple is a royal priest. Every follower of Jesus must be encouraged to make disciples, baptize them, and to teach them to obey all that Jesus commanded.
Who gave us this authority?
Jesus himself gave it in the Great Commission.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Without sincerely embracing the priesthood of all believers, we will only see limited multiplication of disciples among the unreached (or anywhere). This is one of the core reasons why many churches do not multiply. They have not understood that every disciple has the same level of priestly authority to do God’s work.
Declare Your Priestly Identity
Declare it with me today. I am a royal priest of God. He has appointed and commissioned me to represent Him on this earth. Every work of spiritual service, especially the task of making disciples, is mine to do. The people I lead to Christ are also given authority by Jesus to make more disciples and to serve as royal priests.
Let’s start disciple making movements– groups of royal priests who make more royal priests!