Sunday, March 17, 2013

Purpose and Perfection

As I sat in a small room at the Northwest Ministry Conference waiting to hear about the manners and methods of ministry, I was asked one simple phrase about purpose-- if we are perfected and made righteous in death, why haven't we been called home immediately upon salvation?  Why are we still here?

In times of despair, it's easy to find yourself drawing nearer to God-- to feel a yearning for Christ's return and a stronger longing to leave this world.  And it is in those times that we feel absent of the Lord's purpose for us, even as we continue to live on earth.

But perfection in Christ's death and righteousness through His resurrection is not ours to keep.  1 Peter 2:9 makes the bold declaration of who we really are and what we are really meant to do:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Peter's allusions to a "chosen race" do not refer to the nation of Israel, but to all the elect who have been saved by Christ's grace, Jews and Gentiles alike.  He goes on to call us a "royal priesthood" under the advocacy of Christ, the High Priest (Hebrews 4 & 5), made possible by the tearing of the temple veil (Matthew 27:51).  And lastly, we are called a "people for God's own possession," a fitting declaration of our eternal purpose-- the glorification of our Lord Almighty.

Peter goes on to explain the means to achieve this purpose-- that we may "proclaim" Christ's excellencies and His light, in which we now dwell.  In other words, we have not yet been called home because we are tasked to show others to the priesthood, so that they too can be made perfect and righteous in Christ's death and resurrection.

For believers, how successful we are in achieving this purpose will be evaluated at Christ's judgment seat.  Jesus Himself revealed to us the Parable of the Talents, in which the wicked and lazy slave failed to invest in the master's talent, while the good and faithful slaves brought back a twofold yield in returns.

In the same way, we will be judged for how we invested in the priesthood.  Did we invest greatly, "proclaiming" His excellencies, and expanding the kingdom of priests?  Or did we simply fritter away our time and place in the priesthood, having nothing to show for before our Master?

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