As an evangelical and a protestant, I am uncomfortable with being called a priest. Yet that is what I am.
And if you are a follower of Christ, so are you.
But let’s be clear what we’re talking about—and what we’re not talking about.
In most religions or sects that have priests, a priest is someone who has a special connection to God—an inside track—others do not have. For example:
- The caste system in Hinduism places priests at the top of the hierarchy. Priests are far, far closer to becoming gods and are better than everyone else.
- Priests within Roman Catholicism are allowed to perform certain rites and rituals the laity are not privy to. Only priests can offering the Eucharist, hear confessions, offer absolution from sins, and anoint those who are sick.
But what does the Bible say? Scripture makes no distinction between believers. We may have different roles and gifts within the body of Christ, but no one has a special office that gives the person exclusive privileges or makes him or her any closer to God.
So how are we priests? I’m glad you asked.
In the Old Testament, priests had two functions:
- They represented the people to God. The priests served in the tabernacle (and later the temple), the place that represented God’s presence among the people. The priests would enter into the holiest place of the temple and bring a sacrifice to God on behalf of the people. (Heb. 9:6-7).
- They represented God to the people. The priests brought God’s blessing to the people (Num. 6:22-27) and helped the people understand God’s will (Deut. 31:9-13).
It was never God’s intent that this work remain in the hands of a select few. Everything changed with Jesus. Jesus offered the perfect sacrifice—Himself—which removed our sin completely. As a result, the curtain was removed that separated us from God, and we no longer need a special representative. Now we can all be His priests.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
As His priest, I am not better than anyone else. I don’t have a special access to God not available to others. But my role as a priest is still in line with what the Old Testament priests did:
1. I represent the people to God. I can intercede for others in prayer. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Eph. 6:18).
2. I represent God to the people. I am to walk in Christlikeness and shine a light that points to Christ.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” (2 Cor. 5:20).
I need to get comfortable with the thought of being a priest—because that is what I am.
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This post supports the study “I Am a Priest” in Bible Studies for Life.
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