The Reality of Our Identity
The mind reels as soon as we say the word priest. We have all kinds of connotations. One is if we run back into the Old Testament, we see old men with long beards and fancy garments. If we move to the present day, we picture people who are different than we are. They look different; they’re in a different class than we are. Many times, they speak words that build us up, but there are times when they can use their power to harm as well. The reality is that we are priests and it turns out that it’s one of the most significant identities that all of us share as human beings.
When you look at the Garden of Eden, what you find is that it looks just like a tabernacle. There is a garden—a kind of holy of holies—in this larger geographic area of Eden. In that garden, we walk with the Lord and that’s what priests do. Priests are with the Lord and they come close to God. He invites them to draw near. That’s the heart of the priestly job description. We walk with him, we eat with him. Drawing on some Old Testament images, we have fellowship with him. We are called into him, uniting with him, in a way that everything that is his is our own. We are priests and it’s a beautiful job description.
We are priests and it’s a beautiful job description.
We Belong to God
Why doesn’t that come up as often in the New Testament? Peter picks it up when he talks about us as a kingdom of priests, a royal priesthood, but other than that, we don’t find that particular identity in the New Testament. What happens when we move to the New Testament is that the words holy one captures our identity as priests.
Holy ones are the ones who belong to God. God is the holy one himself and everything he gathers close to himself is identified as holy. We are holy ones. Or, perhaps we are better known as saints. Over sixty times in Scripture, we are called saints. Saints, like the priests of old, are the ones who are invited to come close. Not only can we come close to the Father, but it’s also as if he says, “nearer and nearer and nearer.” What’s not to like about such an identity?
Edward T. Welch is the author of Created to Draw Near: Our Life as God’s Royal Priests.
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