You are...a people for His own possession, so that you may proclaim His excellencies...
From Richard Roberts:
1 Peter 2:9-10
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
What is it that defines the Church? What does it mean to be the church of God? Is it to provide a place and a family to which one may belong and be accepted? Is it to be powerful and confident? Emotional and passionate? Studious? Moral? Transparent? Serving others? I imagine that there are some good descriptions of faithful saints in there (and some questionable ones!). However, Peter tells us that the fundamental nature of the Church is simply this: it is God’s own possession. What defines the Church is that it belongs to God. It is not its own to be pandered or pampered in our self-interest and stale religiosity. The Church exists for God and He lives and moves among us as a disturbing, soul-shaking, barrier-breaking, and transforming Triunity.
This is the fundamental nature of the Church. He has stamped upon her the choice word: “Mine!” In the words of Jack Miller, those of the Church are “God-possessed.” And being God-possessed they are also called a “holy nation” who have been called out of the world as a “different” people because God possesses them.
The Church, by nature of belonging to the holy God, is involved in His holiness as well. Johannes Blauw says that by the means of being God-possessed those belonging to God “have separated themselves from the others, the disobedient, and now stand in a positive relationship to God.” So, says Miller, “the God-possessed are the God-separated, consecrated to Him and distinguished from the world.” The nature of the Church is not to serve itself, or even primarily to serve the world, but rather to serve the One to whom it belongs: our reason for existence is to know and serve God. All of our desires and purpose must never lose this identity! May we not confuse our purpose with our traditions or our expectations. And certainly not with the expectations of the world. God is our owner. It is for Him that we are made and live and have our being.
But what is the reason for all of this? For sure, one could say God’s love or His kindness, but there is a far deeper purpose which Peter directly states for becoming the God-possessed. We exist to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” This is our purpose as the God-possessed and God-separated and God-accepted! We have been called to directly confront the darkness of the world with the good news of the marvelous light of God in the gospel!
In other words, our changed identity and its ensuing changed affections, values, and behaviors should be the aroma of God’s mercy and reveal our holy God to a world whose deeds instead reek of “debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing, and detestable idolatry.”
Our deeds, done by faith in the work of Christ and in His powerful transformation of the heart, exalt His holy work of redemption! Our obedience to Christ and our humble proclamation of His kindness towards us and for us by His grace shines into the world as a light which exposes the beauty of God. This is our purpose.
Do we really believe that the gospel can transform anybody? Is there any personal brokenness that the gospel cannot reach, where experts must instead intervene? Is there any shame which cannot be mended by the honor of being owned by God? Is there any fear which is not comforted in this? Any deep desire which does not find its satisfaction?
You see, our calling as the God-possessed is not to make life easier or better for the world, but rather to disclose to them the One True God who possesses us. Our passion to proclaim Him is based upon His worthiness, His beauty, and His glory. This is what spurs the hearts of the redeemed, not merely a love for the lost.
Am I saying that we don't love the lost? No!! However, when our "love" for the lost functionally supersedes our desire for God's praise then we tend to bow to the fear of man’s approval. We end up watering down the gospel in order to make it palatable to people, rather than revealing God in Truth. In reality, the Cross is foolishness (1 Cor 1:17-21), death (2 Cor 2:15-16), and a stumbling block (1 Pet 2:6-10) to some. But to the one who believes it is the power of salvation, life, joy, and hope.
The key to obedient proclamation of God's glory is in seeing God as big as He really is. Where a small view of God exists, praise of God doesn't. Do we really believe that God is that beautiful? That God is that big? That is that caring? That God is that kind? As Dan Flynn says, “God can and God cares.” I like that.
Remember, you who are owned by God, who are united to Jesus by faith in Him. He possesses you because He wants to. There is nothing that can take you away from Him. No suffering. No threat. No loss. Not even death.
You are His, and He can. You are His, and He cares.