Monday, February 21, 2011

We're All in Him Together... Right?

"As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ... 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."

I read this Scripture on a facebook status and it just jumped out at me that priesthood, nation, and people are ALL plural. It's not an individual identity described here.
I've struggled as God seems to show us a lot in this past year how we (Andy and I) aren't living out His Word fully. We've been missing Him. So we've gone to others and shared openly as we struggle. It's not easy to confess our selfish lifestyle to others, but we know it's healing and good. I'm reminded in this passage that this call is not just for Andy and me, but for us all. And there's a good and healthy response God's leading to in this passage for us together to be set apart for Him.

When we hear "set apart"/ separate, there are two dangerous camps we can fall into:
1) the "you may be over spiritualizing this" camp. This may be well-intentioned, but I never think it's good advice to suggest we are ever reading the Bible to literally. God is speaking to us through His timeless Word. Please don't discourage anyone from seeking Him and then doing what He says.
2) the "amen... but them" camp who excitedly agree with being "set apart" and even begin to change and grow by ridding themselves of sin snares. BUT, they have a bitterness at the American church and may begin to see themselves as better than the church. Don't miss this: You can be seeing these amazing truths and changing and growing, yet caught in the sin snare of bitterness or pride (or both). Which leads further into sin of gossip about His church and harsh words towards His people as you see their sin. Beware not to be quick to assume anyone else not living it out must not be His church. 
OLD picture of 20 Something, a place that lives out "together" for Him so well
Peter is stressing that the answer is between these two extremes. It's true that our lives/churches should look really different then they do. And yet, there is grace that only God does that work in us. And He is doing it in His body. One obvious evidence is that some of us are actually seeing our failings!
The use of the plural form in describing our roles reminds me that we are not meant to find our identity and plan separately, but together as God's group of people! And when God shows us His truth, it is not to judge the other people He placed us among, but to grow up in love with His people. A fresh understanding of His Word should be shared for the encouragement of others! 

I'm thankful He is revealing my sin that has been bondage to me and exposing how my lifestyle misrepresents Him. I think He wants "camp 1" to encourage and pray for us as He teaches us and go back to His Word and see if maybe He is calling all of us to obey in a more literal way than we have been. I would encourage "camp 2" to pray for for God to give those that don't see this truth His grace to see His worth and long for Him alone as full treasure... and then pray He'll enable you to give grace to the American church as a whole, your local church, or individuals who are not convicted yet or may never live it out. 

This is not an individual plan, but a group plan. God has been flooring me with SO much biblical truth in the way we do life. It was like He said, "This is not just for you. I care about the American church. I am doing a new work in my church, not just you." And I see it as I talk and pray with others in our daily life, listen to sermons and conferences from around our country, and even see glimpses on facebook. We are not meant to separate from his group of people. His plan is for us all. And OUR indentity is Christ as our all (our cornerstone) and our call is to share Him with all.

Yet we are called to be separate. I'll share more in my next post...

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