The Priesthood of All Believers
by David Dahl
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. (1 Peter 2:9)
Here’s everyday life: Roust the kids; get them to school; go to work; help with supper, dishes, cleaning . . . Every day is filled with rushing, cleaning and maintenance. So what does everyday life have to do with anything? There is an important concept in the Bible that puts everyday life in a whole new light. It’s called the Priesthood of All Believers. Every person who follows Jesus is a priest.
Here’s the significance: A priest is a “bridge.” A bridge is a link, a crossing point spanning a valley or a chasm or a river that can’t be crossed any other way. A priest is a bridge, a link, between God and someone else. Every believer is a link between God and their neighbor. Think about that for a moment.
Martin Luther thought that “this word priest should become as common as the word Christian” because all Christians are priests.” Luther maintained that the plowboy and the milkmaid do priestly work. God has given every person skills and the desire to give witness to God’s faithfulness and to be a bridge between God and those we serve through that skill. So whether I’m plowing or milking cows or working in manufacturing or healthcare or hospitality or education or church work, or parenting, etc., these skills are essential for society to do well and flourish. AND each of these skills opens a door for us to witness to God’s faithfulness and purpose in a very unique way.
When Ron first told me his story, it impacted me deeply because it so clearly shows how the Holy Spirit actively translates our lives into a priestly bridge that others need.
Ron was raised in the faith, attended worship through his Confirmation. And then he disappeared from the life of his congregation.
As he explained that time in his life, he said that he just didn’t “get” what God’s purpose was and what God expected of him.
One day, young Ron caught his elder co-worker, Frank, in the break room standing at one of the vending machines. Frank was putting money into the claim envelop – the envelop you request a refund with if the machine doesn’t work. Ron asked him what he was doing. Frank simply said, “I paid for one but I got two.” Ron said, “Just count it as your lucky day.” Frank repeated, “No, I paid for one but I got two.” Ron couldn’t resist pressing him. “Take one from the big guys. They’ll never notice.” Frank stood straight and looked him in the eye and said, “Last I checked, God doesn’t endorse stealing. This one isn’t mine unless I pay for it.” Frank’s words penetrated right into Ron’s soul.
Ron, now retired from the paper mill himself, was looking straight at me and said that this was the moment all the pieces came together. He had wrestled with God and what God expected of him. For some crazy reason, it all made sense at that moment, standing in the breakroom of the mill surrounded by vending machines, as Frank was willing to be a priest to him – to be the bridge to God that Ron needed.
No pastor could have reached him. But a co-worker could and did. Ron went back to church. He not only went back; he got involved. In fact, he had taught Bible studies and had served a few terms as the president of his congregation.
Peter wrote that we are all God’s “chosen people, a royal priesthood . . . that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light.” You are God’s special bridge between Him and someone else. Someone you know is struggling with the purpose of their life. They are wondering about what God expects of them. They are wondering if their life matters.
As God’s royal priests, may God give each of us a heart to embrace the call to be an answer to their prayer. Our neighbors are counting on it.
Keep and Live the Faith!
-Pr. Dave Dahl
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