And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.

Isaiah 61:6

 

Do you ever think of yourself as a priest of the Lord? If you happen to be a clergyperson in the Anglican, Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox traditions, then you can easily answer this question in the affirmative. But what if you’re a salesperson, a business owner, a medical professional, or a cabinetmaker? Do you see yourself as a priest of God?

A person sitting in a humble, empty, teaching room.Isaiah 61:6 would urge you to do so. As would the broad sweep of the biblical narrative.

From early in biblical history, Israel was to play a unique role as a priestly nation to the world. When God first made a covenant through Moses, he said to the Israelites, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6).

Yet, over the centuries, Israel lost sight of the priestly calling God had given to the nation. The Israelites had a hard enough time following God for themselves, not to mention representing God in a priestly way to the world. But, in chapter 61, Isaiah looks ahead to a day of restoration, a time when God’s people would truly be priests and ministers, not just within Israel, but also for the world.

We, who are God’s people through Christ, have inherited this priestly calling. According to 1 Peter 2:5, we are “a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Our sacrifices do not just include offering God praise and prayer but also living our lives in the world for his sake (see Romans 12:1-2). Though certain churches have designated priests who do specific tasks within their congregations, every single Christian is a priest of God in the world. This means you! We’re all called to represent Christ, to serve him by serving others, to offer all that we do and all that we are to God as our “true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1). No matter where we are, no matter what we do for our daily work, God urges us to live out our high calling as his priests and ministers.

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:

Do you think of yourself as one of God’s priests? Why or why not?

If you did think this way, what difference might it make in your daily life and work?

Where in your world do you serve in a priestly role, representing God to others? At home? In your church? In your workplace?

How might you do this even more faithfully?

PRAYER:

Gracious God, even as the Israelites were to be your priests for the larger world, so we have this high calling today. We are in the world, not simply to wait around for our trip to Heaven, but rather to serve you as priests through serving others in your name. We are your priests, Lord, in our families and at work. We represent you wherever we are.

Help us, we pray, to accept this high calling with joy and conviction. May we live for you each day, seeing every moment, every relationship, and every task as an opportunity to serve you and to live out your kingdom.

All praise to you, O God, because you have called us to be your priests. In the name of Jesus, our great high priest, we pray. Amen.

 

Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
The Meaning of Law in Exodus (Exodus 19:1-24:18)