You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. — 1 Peter 2: 5
We comprise a priesthood that is there to serve God.
In the old covenant, the task of the priests consisted of bringing sacrifices to God. By giving Himself as a sacrifice, Jesus Christ reconciled mankind with God and thereby invalidated the sacrificial service of the Old Testament. Even though the sacrifice of Jesus is unique and fully valid, it does not exempt human beings from bringing their own sacrifices. Human beings can only be redeemed if they sacrifice their old nature and renounce sin.
Tasks of our priesthood
God has not only elected us in order to be redeemed. He has also called us in order to serve Him and bring sacrifices to Him as a holy priesthood.
Paul admonishes us to present our bodies “as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God” (Romans 12: 1). Our divine calling encompasses our entire being. To be in the service of God means to put the gospel into practice in all situations. Through our conduct, we can help human beings to come closer to the Lord.
Let us offer thanksgiving to God (Psalm 50: 14). The church is called upon to bring praises to God. By giving thanks to God collectively, we do our part to help make God’s activity and love known to others.
The priesthood was to bring burnt offerings to God. The smoke of incense was regarded as a symbol for prayers addressed to God (Psalm 141: 2). Our calling is also to intercede on behalf of our neighbour. Let us be built up as a spiritual house of those who pray!
The collective prayer spoken in the divine service is of great importance, however, we can also respond to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit and pray together even when we are not in a divine service. There is no need to establish regularly occurring prayer meetings led by a minister! The important thing is that we pray in the name of Jesus and in His mind and spirit. The aim of our prayers is not to demand miracles of God, but to collectively express our faith, our trust, and our love for our neighbour to Him (Matthew 18: 19).
Let us “not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13: 16). Let us not hesitate to help those who are facing hardship, for example, by supporting the many organizations that are already active in this field. Let us remember the words of the Lord: “But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matthew 6: 3). When we help our neighbour, we do not do so in order to put the spotlight on ourselves or with the motive of bringing him into our Church. We simply do this because we love him.
Although the Philippians had to live through afflictions of their own, they wanted to support the work of Apostle Paul financially. He thanked them warmly for this and assured them that such sacrifices are pleasing to God and that He would also help them in their needs (Philippians 4: 18–19). Today too God blesses the sacrifices of the faithful who give of their income in order to support the mission of the apostolate.
* Thoughts from the Chief Apostle adapted for divine service held on 25 September 2016 at Midrand Congregation.