Over the last three posts we have been considering how holiness is the beauty of God’s people, the church from 1 Peter 1 & 2. First, how love is the language of a holy community. Second, how worship is the work of a holy community, and last,
Proclamation: The witness of a holy community 1 Peter 2:9-12
Look at verse 9, “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 and into his marvelous light.”
God makes us his people, gives us the task of worship with our whole lives in order for us to proclaim Christ to the world. The beauty of holiness in the church is meant to be seen.
But if you think about it, historically, holiness and proclamation haven’t fit that well together. There has either been such a separation from the world that Christians withdraw from non-Christians and their light is hidden. Or the church looks so much like the world that there is a credibility gap between what people know should mark the church and the hypocrisy and sin that is seen.
So how do we keep from falling into one of these extremes?
I think the answer comes in verse 10. “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.”
The language in verse 10 is from the book of Hosea. Hosea is a prophet that ministered in the 8th Century B.C. in a rocky time for the people of God before Israel was scattered and Judah was taken into captivity. The people of God are disobedient and over and over again we see how God describes his rebellious people, “a wayward wife,” “a lackadaisical mother,” “illegitimate child,” “ungrateful son”; but all the while God is showing his incomprehensible mercy and love toward them.
Hosea named two of his children, literally, “no mercy” and “not my people” for “you are not my people, and I am not your God.” (Hosea 1:9) The Lord disowns but the Lord promises to show faithfulness to his promise to Abraham and show mercy, “I will have mercy on No Mercy and I will say to Not my People, you are my people, and he shall say, “You are my God.” (Hosea 2:23) Ultimately, the mercy God shows them and the drawing them near in the family happens through Christ, where there is the fulfillment of the promise of Abraham to make from himself a people more numerous than the sand on the seashore.
So here in 1 Peter, (v.10) he writes, “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. Peter’s point is: you belong to God, he will not disown you or leave you, you are his possession. Everyone in the church’s heritage is “Once we were not his people” but because of the grace of God in Jesus, we can say we are now God’s people. We are his saints. Not perfect, but holy and becoming holy. God has drawn us near, God has chosen to show mercy to us when we did not deserve it.
We all start our stories of Grace with, “Once upon a time… I was one who lived like I was not the people of God because I was running from God and under his wrath. But then, the mercy of God found me, and showed me Jesus, and made me holy, so that I might become holy and then proclaim the excellencies of him who called me out of darkness and into his marvelous light.”
So when Christians gather together the intensity of the realization of how we have been saved by grace should be palpable to those who are watching. No one should ever walk away from the church and say, “those people act like they have it all figured out.” Or, “Those people think they are holier than thou.” People should look at the church and see the broken, the poor, the discouraged, the weak, the needy and they should say, “I can’t explain it, but what is happening in that church is beauty in a way that I have never seen before.” God has changed them and they act like it.
In this way, the beauty of holiness shows up when we proclaim the grace and glory of Christ. That we are dependent on the grace of God and that it is available to others. The beauty of holiness is most clearly seen in the church when the church is marveling at the grace of God in Christ and seeking to live according to it.
So, What is the mission that God is calling us to as the church, holy and set apart for his glory? He is calling us to love, worship and proclaim. Love Christ and love others. Worship Christ with others with the fruit of obedience. Proclaim Christ to others, as those who are now God’s people, having been shown his great mercy and grace. May the beauty of holiness adorn us in greater splendor all our days as individuals, and as the church.