This post comes from Calvary Chapel Pastors
“Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; then I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’” (Hosea 2:23).
This verse is a prophecy of Israel’s future restoration—the day when they will once again be known as the people of God. This privileged status, which was held by Israel and will be held by them again in the future, is the privileged status the church has held for the past 2,000 years. Unfortunately, like Israel of old, the church hasn’t always appreciated its privileges, nor lived up to its responsibilities. But each new generation of Christians has the opportunity to embrace those privileges and live out those responsibilities to the glory of God. I want to be one of those people, and I believe you do too. So, having said that, let’s look at both the privileges and the responsibilities we have as the children of God.
Borrowing from Moses and Hosea, Peter sums it up pretty well in 1 Peter 2:9:
“You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Let’s consider first the privileges:
A Chosen Generation
God has chosen the church to be the recipients of His special affection. So many things are implied in that. First, we are the special objects of His love, and as such, He pours His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit so that we know by experience His great love for us. Along with that, He speaks to us. Surely, that is one of the great privileges. To hear the voice of the Lord, to have Him speaking to our hearts words of strength, comfort, encouragement, and correction—what a blessing! Then there is the glory of His guidance upon our lives. How wonderful to know we are being led through this life by the hand of our loving heavenly Father. He also provides for us. Jesus reminded us that we shouldn’t worry about our lives because we have a Father in heaven who cares for His creatures. “Consider the birds,” He said. “They neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than the birds?” (see Matthew 6:26). Lastly, there’s God protection over our lives. Nothing can come our way except it first passes through the filter of God’s love for us. He protects us and never allows us to be tested beyond our ability to endure. There are many other privileges, like the access we enjoy as a royal priesthood and the confidence that He hears us when we pray. But let’s look at a few of the responsibilities we have as the people of God.
A Holy Nation
We the church are a nation; a holy nation. If you think about nations, they each have their own distinct language, customs, culture, heroes, etc. The distinct feature of our nation is holiness. Our speech, customs, habits, and pleasures should all be marked by holiness. To be holy means to be separate, undefiled, and pure. There is to be something distinctly different between Christians and non-Christians, between the church and the world. Although we live in the world and therefore engage in similar activities, there’s to be something different about the way we go about life. Our marriages are to be marked by a sacrificial love toward one another and a desire to honor Christ through our relationships. Family life is to look much different as we bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Our business practices are to be honorable and full of integrity. We are to keep a light touch on our material possessions and not allow them to become idols in our lives. Even concerning entertainment and leisure, we want to be careful not to forget we are a holy nation.
His Own Special People
When God called Abraham out of Ur, He did so in order to bring into existence a new nation through whom He could accomplish His will and purposes in the world. After Israel failed through persistent unbelief, God brought the church into being that through us He might accomplish His will and purposes. And so we are now His own special people that we might proclaim the praises, or excellencies, of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
As John Stott said, “Every Christian congregation is called by God to be a worshiping, witnessing community … The church has a double identity. We are people who have been called out of the world to worship God and sent back into the world to witness and serve.”
What does it look like to proclaim His praises?
First, we are to simply speak forth the excellencies of the Lord. We are to talk about God: who He is and what He’s done for us. We are to tell others our story. I think we do a disservice to people sometimes by trying to train them to “witness.” We teach various methods of approach and give them a list of verses to memorize and quote, but it all can become so mechanical and wooden. Our approach to people should be natural, conversational—just telling and retelling the story of how Jesus saved us from our sins.
Second, as the church we need to seek opportunities to publicly preach the gospel. We do this through various outreaches we engage in as a community of believers. Pray about ways that you and your church family can get the gospel out into the public square. It’s great to have people come to us, but must also go to them. It’s a beautiful thing to publicly proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Third, live the transformed life in the power of the Holy Spirit and you’ll by your actions be proclaiming His praises.
Fourth, get out into the community and serve people. When God’s people go forth as Jesus did, not to be served but to serve and to give, amazing opportunities arise to proclaim the excellencies of our Lord. We have had so many amazing doors open to share the gospel in places where the opportunity didn’t previously exist, but after seeing the sincere love and concern for the poor or underprivileged or sick or whoever, hearts have softened and doors have ultimately opened.
People of God Rise Up
So many privileges, but along with them are responsibilities. Let’s take to heart the truth that we are the people of God and let’s live accordingly, proclaiming the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
continue reading the views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of Calvary Southampton