A few weeks ago, after the protests had started around the U.S. and the world, my pastor spoke about the plague of racism and how it has no place in our lives. It has no place in the church because it’s not of God. I was amen-ing the whole time and so proud of my white pastor for speaking out in this way. I was pumped that the things that I had been praying for were being echoed in his sermon—clearly, God is doing something in this nation and speaking to his children.
But then my pastor ended his sermon with something that I didn’t expect. He pulled out some truth had never really seen before in a very famous verse. In Revelation 5, John has a vision in which he sees a scroll that no one is worthy of opening, until the spotless Lamb, Jesus shows up. And when the saints see him, this is what they began to sing:
““You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”” Revelation 5:9-10 (NKJV)
I’ve always focused on the “every” part of this verse. God has called people from every nation on this planet. He has adopted people with every skin tone, language, and culture. He doesn’t discriminate and there won’t be any racism in heaven because we’re all part of one family: God’s.
Somehow, I’ve gotten so caught up in that part of this verse (which is incredible and should probably be focused on more) that I don’t keep reading. Somehow I’ve always missed that next line that says that because of God and his redemption, we have all been made kings and priests.
During that sermon that I’m still thinking about all these weeks later, my pastor asked a simple question:
Are you treating everyone like they’re a king and a priest?
A king is worthy of utmost respect and honor.
A priest is holy and righteous.
If we are in Christ, we have been made holy and righteous by his precious sacrifice. When we were adopted into God’s family, we became his children, people of authority and influence. We are called to use our position as kings and priests not to lord it over others or point out all of their flaws or mistakes like the Pharisees did. Instead, we are called to give grace and love to those around us.
Then my pastor, as if knowing there would probably be some skeptics in the room, doubled-down on this verse. He pointed out that this verse is talking about the saints, those who follow God, those who trust Jesus. We are kings and priests. But that doesn’t mean that we treat the church well and treat everyone else miserably. The truth is that God is constantly inviting those who don’t know him into his Kingdom. They are potential kings and priests… and they deserve respect and love as well.
Obviously, this is a nice verse to talk about, but treating others as a king and priest is much more difficult in practice. I’m grateful that we don’t have to try and muster this up on our own. I believe, like everything else, that this comes from an outpouring of the spirit of God in our lives. When we know who he is and who we are, our behaviors begin to change.
Love, honor, peace, and grace are all accessible to us today because of the finished work of Jesus. The church is full of kings and priests and the world is full of potential kings and priests—let’s live like it today!
Do you see yourself as a king and a priest?
How can you treat someone else as a king and a priest today?
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