Why we are here - the royal priesthood

God’s purpose in creation. 

From the beginning humanity were called to fill and subdue the world in a way that images God (Gen 1v26-28). They were to display his likeness as they engaged in family life, raising children who would know and image him too. And they were to cultivate nature so that it truly flourished, and bring good order to all God had made through the structures of society – whether their communities, workplaces, politics or wider contribution to culture (Gen 1v28, 2v15, 4v20-22). 

God’s kingdom was to encompass the entire world as people embraced his rule in all areas and devoted their gifts and efforts to his purposes. They were to rule the creation as mini-kings under him as King of kings. 

It is in this sense that humanity was created to be a royal priesthood, overseeing the world as the place (like the temple) where God would live with them (Gen 3v8). Shining for Christ in the world. 

We’ve seen how the devil overturned this. Every area of life is now corrupted by sin. To various degrees they express the rule of the “kingdom of darkness.” But through Christ things are changing. As those of all nations respond to him, they are renewed into God’s image. Their endeavours are therefore brought back under God’s rule and become expressions of his “kingdom of light.” 

So, Jesus is the perfect second Adam – the head of a new humanity that is increasingly filling the earth and starting to subdue it as God intended. However, he was clear that until his return the kingdoms of light and darkness will remain in conflict (Matt 13v36-43). Only then, when he subdues and casts out all evil will “the kingdom of the world” become the “kingdom of our Lord and his Christ” (Rev 11v15). Now we are to express the reign of his kingdom in our hearts and lives. Then we will finally enter it as a realm that will encompass all things – in our resurrection bodies, filling and perfectly subduing this world made new. 

All this explains why Christians are to be at the forefront of environmental concern. But it also explains why they are to engage in every legitimate vocation – shaping them as far as they can to the Bible’s teaching. Whether as a bin man or banker, this benefits culture to the good of all. But it also expresses Christ’s reign, providing a foretaste and pointer (though imperfect) to the “culture” he will establish at his return. That’s why your study or work is so important. In it you serve and point to Jesus. 

We declare that in being slain he is worthy “to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise” (Rev 5v12). Our station in life, our resources, our skills and our efforts, are all to be devoted to him and so exercised in a way that honours him. 

Whole life Christianity. 

Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5v22). These attributes are to be displayed in our service of Jesus. But there is more. God promised that the Holy Spirit would “write his laws” on our hearts and minds. The Ten Commandments (CS) are their essence. And so, we are to apply their principles to every sphere of life - to our own engagement with family, community, workplace, politics and culture. 

In all these areas the Christian encourages true worship and reverence of God, and the restraint of busyness so that people can rest, remember him, enjoy his creation, and give it some rest too (CS1-4). They commend honouring and caring for parents and the raising of children in the faith (C5). They hold life as sacred, respecting all, and serving and speaking up for those who are oppressed – for the unborn, the elderly, the disabled, the immigrant, the poor, the ostracised, and any who struggle or are treated badly (C6). In what they do, think on and watch, they turn from violence, hatred and sexual immorality, affirming the importance of true marriage and sexual purity (CS6-7). They are law-abiding and honest, even in the little things, and so far as they are able, they seek to promote legal justice (CS8-9). And they have learnt contentment, being happy with a simplicity and moderation in terms of their belongings, that enables them to be generous to all (CS8-10). 

Such whole life Christianity gets noticed, repelling some, but attracting others (Jn 3v20-21). It is why Jesus called the church a “city on a hill.” The light of God’s glory displayed in its members is intended to draw people to it, and so to God (Is 60, Matt 5v14-16). 

Speaking of Christ to the world. 

Our second priestly work is therefore to share the gospel as we live out this life, so that those we engage with can be saved and serve Jesus too. We call this evangelism as the Greek word for gospel is “evangelion.” 

It really couldn’t be more important that we speak of Christ to others and teach our children the faith. So, we should pray for opportunities to naturally do so - and actively make opportunities where we can – as churches and individuals. You might share you’re a Christian and prompt conversation by asking whether someone has had much experience of church. You might tell of something God has done for you, or describe how and why you came to faith. And it is good to follow up every spiritual conversation, however brief: Pray for God to be at work, give away a book, offer to chat further, read a gospel or book one to one, or invite the person to church or a course. 

Saved to serve. 

Many miss that we’re saved in order to serve (Lk 1v74-75, 1 Pet 1v9, Rev 22v3). Priests oversaw the workings of the temple and taught the people God’s word. As a royal priesthood we are therefore to image God by doing good in his world-temple and speak of Christ as we do. And in doing so, like priests offering sacrifices, we offer ourselves and others to God. 

Because Jesus will only return when the full number have come to faith (2 Pet 3v9), this is the only reason you are still here! It is the highest and most privileged of callings. And it is to be your life’s work. It is your mission. 

To consider for discussion: 
1. What does this teach a Christian view of society should be? 
2. Of the environment? 
3. Of the family? 
4. Of work?