How do we live the new life into which we have been born?
Step two is all about becoming church. We are a part of a community, a kingdom.
In the last passage, Peter admonished believers to abide in God’s living Word. Here he informs them that they are being built as living stones into a building. (A metaphor for the communal nature of the life of faith.) Our place in the community of believers is vital to our new life in Christ.
This is a vivid and colorful passage of quotes from the Old Testament, full of adjectives and descriptions. Living stone, living stones, spiritual house, holy priesthood, spiritual sacrifices, corner stone, chosen race, kingdom of priests, and holy nation. Peter’s point in all of this is to emphasize the collective nature of our new life, as well as our purpose in that community.
Believers are Israel. Peter doesn’t even say “new” Israel. Those who trust and obey Jesus are God’s people. They carry the same distinction and mission that Israel has always carried. They are a chosen people. They are a distinct people. They have a clear mission.
The mission is the priesthood. Our role as Christians, our role as church, is to offer spiritual sacrifices. Even in the Old Testament system where sacrifice was a literal concept, the idea of sacrifices was used as a metaphor for worship and holy, ethical living. That is still the idea. We are not priests tasked with carrying on the ritual of sacrifice. Everyone gets that. We are also not supposed to merely replace that ritual with another, equally symbolic act such as a “worship service.” Worship services are not bad, but if that is the only way your church worships, you have a serious problem.
The true act of worship God desires, the spiritual sacrifices, are the daily lives lived as community in the world giving glory to God. Proclaiming His news, sharing His blessing, demonstrating His love. The same sorts of things that we saw are the outpouring of abiding in God’s Word.