1 Peter: God’s true temple

This is the fifth in a series on 1 Peter. The series begins here.

(Hey! We’re already over halfway through this!)

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You might have thought yesterday that I missed some of the most important metaphors of 1 Peter. I want to give those a dedicated post today. And these are far more than metaphors… here Peter talks about one of the deep mysteries of how God is working on this earth…and of who we now are after coming to Christ.

 

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You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.

And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.

… You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:4, 5, 9).

We who have come to Christ are being built into God’s temple here on earth. The temple was the place of God’s dwelling, the evidence of His presence among His people. It was where the people of Israel met God.

Now that evidence of God here on this earth, working out His plan in the world—is us! He dwells in—He makes His home in—His people.

In His people, the rest of the world meets God.

In a way, that’s overwhelming, even terrifying.

But everything is built on Christ, whose Spirit gives life to these stones. And that makes this whole mystery exciting and awe-inspiring.

What’s more, we are priests in the temple of God. The priests in the physical temple were priests by birth, assigned special duties and positions by virtue of their birth into a certain tribe of Israel. With our new birth, we become priests in this spiritual temple of the Lord, dedicated to serving Him, chosen for the work of God on this earth.

Remember the constant and various sacrifices the priests offered in the Old Testament? Each sacrifice had many requirements concerning its purity and the way it was presented—even what the priests wore when they sacrificed. There were times when those sacrifices were repulsive to God because the priesthood (and the Israelites) were going through the rituals but living in open defiance of what God wanted. God’s words then were, “Your sacrifices make me sick!”

We know what poor sacrifices we offer up to the Almighty God. Even the “living sacrifice” that Paul talks about falls short of God’s standards. We know how we fail. We know the struggles going on in our church, the spiritual weapons of warfare that come against it, and how our own old natures sometimes rise up in this family. How is it that our sacrifices can now be pleasing to the Lord?

All, again, depends on Jesus Christ.

His intervention and sacrifice made our sacrifices acceptable. And, poor and weak and tainted though our sacrifices may be, His Spirit is constantly working to cleanse and build the Temple. I know this is leaving 1 Peter, but I can’t help but think of a beautiful image in Ephesians. As we learn to know Christ better and better, writes Paul, we will gain maturity and unity.

We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love (Ephesians 4:14-16).

Those who have come to Christ are a holy nation, a nation dedicated to God, a nation that exists to show others the goodness and light of God in this world. We are partners with Christ in His mission to bring the world to God, and He is building us into a temple of God here on earth. I want to experience the power of that!

And there is that word holy again. So tomorrow we’ll take a look at being holy in everything.

 

 

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