Come to Him [the risen Lord] as to a living Stone which men rejected and threw away, but which is choice and precious in the sight of God. You [believers], like living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house for a holy and dedicated priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices [that are] acceptable and pleasing to God through Jesus Christ….But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.I Peter 2:4-5, 9
God has done an amazing thing! Many amazing things, actually. But now, in this time, in our rushing frenetic world, God has said, “Stop!”. What a shock to our sensibilities as we come to a dead halt. All of a sudden we have few or no important schedules. No need to hurry the children out the door to school. No need to rush out the door to work. No appointments, concerts, meetings. Not only that, but we are surrounded by “fear talk”. It’s all we are hearing. Our nation and many others are being brought face to face with our mortality….and we’re being asked to process it somewhat alone.
Process, alone. This is a very difficult thing for people who run from one thing to another, distracted by multitudes of things to do. This condition leaves us, and those around us, “off-kilter”, confused, afraid, and anxious. What are we to do?
Heather Holleman, speaker, author, CRU faculty leader, English teacher at Penn State, reminded me in a recent blog of one of the roles of a priest. Joshua is leading the Israelites across the Jordan into the land that God had promised them. Joshua called the priests to come with the ark of the covenant. He commanded the people, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, then you shall set out from where you are and follow it. However there shall be a distance between you and it of of about 3,000 feet by measurement. Do not come near it, so that you may [be able to see the ark and] know the way you are to go, for you have not passed this way before.” You can read the full story in Joshua 3. The priests were told to go into the Jordan ahead of the people and stand. The waters rolled back and the people were able to cross over.
So what are some of the responsibilities of a priest?
- Lead forth in a place we have never passed before. There have been other times of plague and death. I have not passed through such a time in my lifetime. Have you?
- Priests pray. That’s what Jesus is doing for us right now.
- Priests proclaim and demonstrate the excellencies of God. The priests in Joshua’s time stood in the water and let God do His work around them. I Peter tells us that we are His people so that we may proclaim the wondrous deeds and virtues and perfections of Him who called us out of darkness.
- Priests bless the people. This was a common practice among the priests in the Old Testament and Jesus commonly did it while here on earth.
Because we, too, are a product of our culture, now is the time for us to seize our day and time. We must take time to bask in God’s glory, His beauty, His creation, His Word. We must allow our own souls to calm and relax into the blessings of our God and Creator. We are not able to move forward in our own responsibilities unless we are moving under the power and authority and strength and peace of the Holy Spirit. We are going to need to spend time listening to God and being obedient to Him. This is what Jesus did on earth, and what He called us to do also. We’re going to need to depend upon Him. This is His work, and we want to be fruitful participants in His work.
- Pray for God’s work. Our culture is in a unique posture right now, with potential to look toward God.
- Be a light. Love well in these days. Open your eyes to those around you. Are they frightened? Are they sick? Are they frazzled? Do they have food? Are they lonely? Ask God to show you how you can bless them. And then do it to the best of your ability with the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Be calm and remember Who is in control. We cannot point the way if we lose sight of it.
- Watch for evidence of God at work and praise Him for it.
Yesterday I messaged with our Italian “son” who lived with us for a year in the early 90’s. He is quarantined. A family friend, Beppi, and a friend of his father’s has been in the hospital for 10 days. Andrea is afraid. I had the opportunity to remind him that Someone is in control and He is good. May we have that opportunity over and again to remind those around us that Someone is in control and He is good. He is calling. He loves us. He wants us to know Him.