You are a royal priesthood
1 Peter 2:9 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. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
In the Jewish scriptures the Levite tribe, which Moses belonged to, were designated a landless priesthood by blood to serve the rest of the Israelite tribes. In the same way, the church serves the same purpose today as the priesthood for the world.
One expectation on this priesthood is to praise God with our stories, what was done for us by Him, from darkness to light, from disunity to unity, from condemnation to mercy. It's more than talk though it's a walk: a walk in love, a walk in unity, a walk of mercy.
This has some important obligations for the Christian church. Peter continues,
11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.Part of this testimony of praise is a life of love physically manifested by good deeds.
13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.This royal priesthood of love is one of deference to the leaders who oversee the lands we live in, whether it be a malevolent godless dictator or a kind Christian african american. We do not pray for their destruction but for their conversion, to have a similar transit from darkness to light. We do not testify by our judgment but by our good deeds, our love, and the honor we give to others.
Jesus is the prototype of this priesthood.
23 When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. 24 “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”This priesthood does not retaliate or threaten, but suffers, believing that even death cannot destroy the victory of God. In chapter 4 he writes, 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Love is the priority of our ministry, without it, we are just making noise.
The story no longer stops here for me, because I realized the priests were not the only ones chosen by God. They were a subset of a larger group of chosen ones.
Everyone is loved by God (For god so loved the world...) and will know his love for all eternity. A Jew did not have to be a Levite to be one of God's chosen people, nor does the non-Christian world. In Peter's 2nd letter he writes, 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. What is repentance? a change in thinking, a change from a self focus to a neighbor focus, from selfishness to generosity, from hate to love. In the meantime, those of us who have joined the priesthood pray daily for Christ's kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as in heaven, then live it out - where he is the object of our desire, where those who are in need are fed and clothed, where reconciliation happens - offenses are forgiven and offenders ask for forgiveness, where mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).
All God's children are called to his kingdom of love. His patience is eternal. Everyone recognizes love eventually, even if not in this life, Matthew 5:26, I Corinthians 3:11-15. The royal priesthood is the love advance team hollering about the good news that love is better than we can imagine that love has been embodied and died at our hands yet still forgives. Love always wins in the end.