Sunday, November 2, 2008

Chosen and Named

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

1 Peter 2:9-10

There is no way to speak away the complete and utter terrors of this world - war, slaughter, abuse, neglect of the elderly, and death of the unborn. They cannot be explained away by blaming society for lack of better education, social welfare, so on and so forth. None of these things are coincidental tragedies, mere accidents, or a freak episodes in the course of human history. Though we may be grieved with sadness, we must not be shocked and surprised. It can only be explained by God’s revelation of our human heart as wholly depraved and hostile to his divine will. The darkness in which we are born is murderous by nature, adulterous by nature, greedy, selfish, hate filled – by nature.

We remain completely entrenched in our natural state regardless of external social conditions. It is not our social condition received by the world whereby darkness enters into our lives but rather Rousseau’s "natural man" in his "natural state" which is the cause of the ceaseless horrors of the world. This world is broken from the curse of darkness. Darkness proceeds not from the 6:00 news in which various tragedies are reported but instead from our human hearts which have plunged the entire world into death and decay.

Yet Peter is not reminding us of the darkness in which we wallow for a lifetime but here reminds us of the one who has called us out of this darkness. We have been granted a pardon out of this chaotic mess by Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Peter is rejoicing in God’s grafting of the gentiles into the vine, which is the Lord Jesus. He speaks of those which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not mercy, but now have obtained mercy. The special covenantal relationship between God and the Jews has been extended to include all hearers and believers of the work of Jesus. The universality of this saving work not only liberates you but makes you, the faithful, a "royal" or "kingly" priesthood. In the Old Testament where only priests could approach the altar and offer sacrifices, now lowly gentiles or servants of Asia Minor can also receive the royal riches of Christ and offer acceptable sacrifices. Peter is speaking on this revolutionary development that reverses old hierarchal relationships regarding spiritual worship, in a way which puts even the lowliest person (this is you and I) in direct communion with God. All humanity is justified and vindicated through Jesus – all sins paid for – the darkness of death swallowed whole. All, dearest Christians – living stones can approach the alter without fear, having full assurance in all these promises. This is how the Lord has chosen to restore the world. You, a holy people are a holy and new creation.

This text and the surrounding content of Peter’s letter spills over with Baptismal and Eucharistic references. There is great hope, and confidence in all that has taken place with the death and resurrection of Christ. For you are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. This marvelous light, in which you are called, shines through in the merciful waters of your holy baptism. Your murderous, adulterous, and depraved heart were crucified and put to the death in the body of Christ. He took on your depravities in His baptism where this blessed exchange began. The darkness of this world was placed upon him. The sins of murder, adultery, every evil vice were taken up by him - for on the blessed cross - not one sinner can outsin the Christ. Your most grevious sins – even that one which plagues you, from which you cannot find escape was his. The marvelous light of His glory and resurrection are given for you – for your escape – your deliverance – your exodus from darkness, sin, and the devil. The power of sin, death, and the devil have no power over you in the light of your holy baptism. You are now the people of God. You are his chosen generation. He has called you. He has broken the chains of death

Dear Christians, as the Lord’s Holy people, he does not promise for you earthly lives free from anguish and pain. Suffering is pretty much guaranteed. Yet He promises to work all things for your benefit and the benefit of His kingdom. His dear apostles and followers in the early church were mocked, tortured, and martyred. They were sent to the bloody arena and later on to the gallows. Unspeakable cruelties afflict the Christians of the African continent today where martyrs are daily ushered into God’s holy presence. The Lord makes you a royal, holy, and yet strangely "peculiar" nation to the rest of the world. You show forth praise and thanksgiving to a crucified Christ. It provides not earthly treasure, and exceeding riches. But what marvelous light you have been called into where holy treasures abound. God’s Holy nation, his eternal kingdom, this royal priesthood, and peculiar people are more real and lovely than this world. For it is the ultimate reality, the only refuge, our home and paradise that was always intended for us. Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light is Jesus Christ.

"Like the golden sun ascending,Breaking through the gloom of night, On the earth his glory spending, So the darkness takes to flight; Thus my Jesus from the grave And death's dismal, dreadful cave, Rose triumphant Easter morning, At the early purple dawning. Thanks to Thee, O Christ victorious!"

Dear Christians, rejoice over the one whom has called you out of darkness and into light. Your are his Holy people whom he had called. All is accomplished through Him and all has been made right. By receiving His sacraments he declares you Holy, righteous, and in a marvelous light.

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