And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation. Exodus 19:6
Human history and culture have taught us many things about what priests are, about what they do. Depending on your experiences and upbringing this may have left you with a good impression or a bad one—probably some of both. But what does it mean when God casts his vision for his people and what he sees is a kingdom of priests? You mean stuffy, cloistered guys who wear funny garb? That can’t be it.
So then what?
Biblically speaking, the priests were set up to cross the divide between God and people. They were the go between, the bridge-builders. I’ve been told that the word for priest in Latin actual comes from the same root as bridge-builder. I don’t speak Latin so I can’t say for sure, but I like the imagery and I think the concept rings true, so for today we’ll go with it. God wants a people who are always bridging the gap between him and the people, a whole kingdom of people connecting the two. Reaching toward God and toward people; reaching and making connections.
How do we do this? How do we reach the scarred and show them the way to the sacred?
Of all the things we presume God puts on us. Of all the hoops we have been taught that God wants us to jump through. When God was first establishing his people and bringing them out of slavery—before the Ten Commandments and before the tabernacle or the temple—God shared a vision. A vision for priests. A vision for bridge-builders who would take people by the hand and walk them in and introduce them to God himself. A people who would follow in the footsteps of Jesus—the great high priest—even before he stepped on earth.
So this is God’s grand vision for his people. Not a perfect people. Not a pampered and spoiled people. A working class of priests. A people committed to showing others where God can be found and how he can be accessed. A people who will call out to God on behalf of others even as they show those others how to call out for themselves. A people whose lives are devoted to serving God and others.
A people whose lives are devoted to loving God and others.
That, ultimately, is what it means to be a kingdom of priests. It is to be a kingdom of God-lovers and people-lovers. A kingdom of God-servers and people-servers.
We have only two main objectives in this life. Both are marks of a good priest I think.
Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “`You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40
Love God. Love others. Can you imagine a kingdom filled with people doing this? How about a city? A church? How about the place you call home? How about just wherever you happen to be?
A kingdom of people loving God and loving others. A kingdom of people bridging the gap between God and people. A whole bunch of priests. This is the dream of a God who loves with reckless abandon and will stop at nothing to make himself known to us. I’m thinking this should be my dream too.