"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9
I am not a Catholic, but I am a priest. And, if you're a believer in Jesus, then so are you. According to Apostle "Little Rock" Peter we are "a royal priesthood" who have direct access to God the Father through the shed blood of our "Big Rock" and High Priest, Jesus Christ.
But our priesthood has other implications than being able to directly enter the Heavenly Holy of Holies through prayer. According to St. Peter we were chosen as priests with a purpose, that we "may declare the praises of him who called (us) out of darkness into his wonderful light."
Declare to whom? To everyone who is in the darkness! This means that our priesthood as believers serves not just a heavenly purpose (prayer) but an earthly one (evangelism!)
St. Paul takes this concept even further when he refers to himself as "a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit" Romans 15:16. Like Paul, we have a priestly duty to proclaim the gospel to those around us.
When I was a roofer during my senior year of college the guys I used to work with knew that I was going to school to be a preacher and many of them made fun of me. They would call me "preacher boy" and give me a hard time. Most of it was in good fun but sometimes it kind of got to me. It was at the time in the late eighties when many televangelists were getting caught up in moral and money scandals. My fellow roofers wouldn't let that go and they would tell me ask me how much money I planned to make as a preacher and how many women I would keep on the side.
How did I respond? I just kept trying to share Jesus with them, assure them that all Christians weren't like these shysters and work hard as roofer, doing all the dirty work that nobody else wanted to do. That's all I could do.
But it was then that I began to notice something. When one of my fellow roofers was going through a hard time, whether it be alcohol, drug, legal or marriage problems, they wouldn't go to their drinking buddies. Instead they would come to me. They would pull me aside where nobody else could see or hear them talking to "preacher boy" and then confess their sins to me and ask me to pray for them.
It was like having a little confessional on every construction site. Often they would say something like, "I know you have a direct pipeline to the Man upstairs...." and then proceed to confess their transgressions to their fellow roofer/priest. Of course I would share the good news of Jesus with them as the start of the solution to their specific problem. While some would put their faith in Jesus and others would not, all of them knew they had a ready made priest to go to whenever they needed one.
This priesthood works in the classroom as well as the roof.
My wife is a fifth grade public school teacher and is a bright light in a dark place. She shines brightly at her school by loving Jesus and taking this love out on her students and fellow teachers. Of course she has to be careful how she declares the praise of him who called her out of darkness in a place where direct evangelism is a no-no. But her students and fellow teachers know that she is a committed follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
She is a priest at her school.
Her effectiveness as a priest came clear to me just three weeks ago when one of her former students looked her up online. A young lady who is a senior in college tracked my wife down via facebook and began to ask her about God. She scrolled through her memory and found the "priest" that made the biggest impact on her life spiritually. Who tracks down their 5th grade teacher to get answers about God? Somebody looking for a priest!
Two weeks ago in our living room both Debbie and I got to lead that young lady into a relationship with Jesus Christ. And now she is a priest on her college campus.
Debbie and I are running a neighborhood Bible study that includes several familes. We have Catholics, Mormons and Protestants in the group. Our goal? To become the priests for our neighborhood! My wife and I want to shine the light of Christ so brightly on our block that we become the unofficial neighborhood priests, ever pointing to the salvation that is found alone in Jesus Christ, our High Priest! As priests we want to pray for, care for, listen to and love all our neighbors as we "declare the praises of him who called (us)out of darkness into his wonderful light."
As the President of a ministry called Dare 2 Share I work alongside our excellent team to mobilize teenagers to relationally and relentlessly reach their generation for Christ. Our goal is to inspire, equip and deploy teen evangelists (aka "priests") on every high school and middle school in America with the message and mission of Jesus. We call this "priest" deployment strategy "THE Cause." Teens need Chirstian friends to confide in and confess to. Teens need thier priestly friends to point them to the One who can, not just absolve them from their guilt, but forgive them from their sin. That One is Jesus Christ!
Will you choose to exercise your priesthood in your neighborhood, at your work and in your family? Will you recruit Christian teenagers you know to be priests at their schools? It is time for priests, both young and old, to kneel down in prayer and then rise up to proclaim the light and love of Jesus Christ to a world lost in darkness. It is time to be the priest that God has called you to be.
No collar necessary.