A Royal Priest

This morning I spoke on what I’m learning from 1 Peter 2:9 and our incredible identity as royal priests. It’s such a beautiful, strange, and overlooked title.

In the academic world, I’ve navigated the most awkward conversations about my title for the last 10 years. Am I a professor? A lecturer? An adjunct? A professor of practice? Am I associate, assistant, full-time, part-time? What am I? 

The lack of a professional title bothered me for years as I worked as a part-time instructor with a PhD who, although not tenure-line, still led grad seminars, worked on committees, designed curriculum and various programs, and served as the course coordinator for advanced writing in the humanities. I’ve had others express embarrassment on my behalf that one as trained as I am would have such a low designation at the university. I’ve had people act ashamed for me. Perhaps this is why knowing I’m seated with Christ has helped in these insecure settings of comparison and ranking.

But outside of the university, when I’m interviewed on the radio or introduced on stage, there’s always still this moment of confusion about my title. Who is she? What is she? Do we call her a wife and mother? A writer? A speaker? A campus minister? A professor? An evangelist?

So when I read of this amazing designation in 1 Peter that, actually, I’m a royal priest, I feel a giggle rise up because those in the royal priesthood have this preeminent, authoritative title far greater than any university or corporate title. It’s the title describing who we are and what we’re doing in any situation. And it’s amazing. It’s better than anything because it’s what we are doing because of Jesus.

Royal Priest combines the highest of titles–both king and priest. Jesus as our great High Priest invites us to participate in a royal priesthood as if we were kings and priests both. We serve and worship Him now and forever as a kingdom of priests.

But as I began to ask what the royal priest does, I found a new identity as I entered any space. If you look through the Old Testament, you’ll find that the priest does three main things: bless, explain God’s word, and lead with the atoning sacrifice. When Peter says we are part of a royal priesthood, I’m learning that this designation means I have a special role in any setting. I’m here to minister and bless! I’m here to explain God’s word to you! I’m here to help you understand the sacrifice! You asked about my title? Well, let me just say I’m a royal priest. Keep it on the down low. I don’t want to cause a scene. 

But are we really to see ourselves as royal priests? Charles Spurgeon explains how Jesus provides our perfect qualifications for the priesthood including our clothing (we are clothed with Christ’s righteousness), the anointing (by the Holy Spirit), and the cleansing (by the final sacrifice of Christ to make us perfect). And now, we are in the world as agents of blessing, proclamation, and explanation of the sacrifice.

How powerful! How mysterious!

Who is she? She is a royal priest serving her High Priest, Jesus Christ.

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

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