“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 Peter 2:9
It isn’t very often that I open up the Bible, and I see staring back at me from the page a core Baptist distinctive. But there I was reading 1 Peter and mediating on what it meant to be a “chosen people, a royal priest, a holy nation, God’s special possession.”
One of my thoughts when starting the Forum Christian Church nearly two years ago was that I wanted to cultivate a space where the people could share in the priesthood of all believers. I wanted to teardown the walls that we sometime setup in church between priest and parishioner and fill that space with spiritual formers and fishers of people. I deeply desired to walk a spiritual sojourn through my city with God and those who he had called not unlike Moses and Aaron when they trekked through an Egyptian desert with only God, a few tent poles, and a people who were struggling with faith.
I think when everyone goes to start a church or lead a plant from an established church, they have an Acts chapter two sort of vision. They believe God will come down, people will become selfless, and the church will multiply overnight. All we as church starters had to do was take that step of faith. But, church starting really is more akin to those days that Israel spent in the wilderness. We find ourself in a new and strange place, we look around for someone to lead us, but when we look to God, he reminds us that he chose us for that role, and we only need to rely on him.
It was in my mediation on 1 Peter 2:9 that I finally did realize that the nation of Israel did not exist before the exodus out of Egypt. Rather, they were a hodge-podge group of semitic strangers with various backgrounds and places of origin. It wasn’t until after they chose to move towards where God had told them to go did they begin to mold into the people who God called them to be.
Though I am still in my infantile phase in church starting, God has made it abundantly clear to me that God asks us to go to new and dangerous places, to leave the comfort of what we know behind and to stretch ourselves in times of difficulty. God asks us all of this because he’s making a people, a holy nation, a royal priesthood. We can’t expect to be the same. We can’t expect to have an overnight success when we haven’t even crossed the sea, spent time on the mountain, or eaten the manna from off the ground. It is these experiences that shape us as a church that form us into that people, his special possessions.
So where do we go from here? We march forward towards the vision God has given us of a new place. It’s different, but it’s the same. We leave on this journey shoulder to shoulder as strangers, but when we arrive, we arrive face to face with brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, priests and pastors.