This is the second in a series of four articles from Jeff’s Vision talk at our first Core Group meeting. You can read part 1 here.
Second truth to note – the church is defined in relationship to God. We see this in the beginning of verse 9. The terms Peter uses to describe the church are used in relationship to God.
A Chosen Race – chosen by whom? Well, God! We exist as a people because of God’s gracious, sovereign working. We are not a self-made race of people. Our beginning, our origin as a “race” is found in God’s sovereign, gracious choosing of us to be his people.
A Royal Priesthood – what do priests do? They mediate and intercede between the people and God. So, our role as the church, in part, is to “mediate” between sinful humanity and God by pointing them to the one true Mediator, Jesus Christ. We do not exist just to help people through life. We exist to help people through life by teaching them about how to relate to God through the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we were to remove God and his gospel from the center of our work, then we would cease to be this royal priesthood.
A Holy Nation – In the OT, God told the people ofIsrael, “Be holy as I am holy.” Holiness was defined in relationship to God. How did the Israelites know what it meant to be holy? By knowing God. The same is true for us. As we continue to grow in our knowledge of God, then we grow in our pursuit of holiness. But if God loses his position as the defining point of our existence, then we lose our connection with growing in holiness. That is why our vision statement is about God because we want to be a holy people.
A People for His own Possession – For whom do we exist? For God! We are his, by nature of his having made us and shown us mercy. To not have him as the defining center of our existence violates the reason for which we have been created and gathered together – to be his people.
Here’s the point – not only were we created by God, but our entire lives are now defined in relationship to God. There is not a sense in which the church can say that it exists or functions apart from God. Now, I know that there is no church openly saying that it exists or functions apart from God. Nobody’s vision statement reads, “We exist independent of God!” But isn’t that what we subtly do as churches and Christians – remove God from the defining center of our lives and thus our churches? We make Christianity about everything other than about God. And the other things that we put at the defining center are not bad things. It is not bad to want to help people have better marriages. It is not bad to want to help people deal with difficult circumstances in life. It is not bad to want people to know how to better handle their finances. The bad part is that we are looking for answers in all the wrong places, namely places other than God himself. People have better marriages as they learn to better and more rightly relate to God. People can deal with difficult circumstances by rightly relating to God. People begin to use their finances more responsibly as they do so in relationship to God. What I am saying is that how we relate to God is at the center of every area of our lives. That is why, friends, our Vision statement, our hope for success, must be centered on God.