“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
These words of the Apostle Peter are among my favorite passages in the Bible. In fact, this verse hangs in a plaque on the wall in my office at home. It serves to remind me of who I am as a believer in Christ. It also lays out the challenge and calling that God has given to me and to all who believe.
In this verse, Peter draws on images from the Old Testament as he describes the Christian life. We are, he says, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people.”
We are believers because God has called us to faith in Christ. We believe because God in his grace and mercy has spoken to us.
And not only has God called us as individuals. He has also brought us together, as a community of people. We live in a turbulent and difficult time. How comforting it is to know that we are not alone in our faith. There are others like us, thousands of us, in fact, whom God has brought together as one community under him. He is our Father, and we are his people. We are not alone.
Our mission, as Peter describes it, is to bear witness to God, to testify to him, in daily life. We are to “proclaim God’s mighty deeds.”
Some of us probably think that this is principally the work for pastors, missionaries and other church leaders. But Peter sees this as the work and ministry of all of us who believe. We are all called to show forth God’s grace and mercy.
I am sure that many of us are doing this as a part of our daily lives as Christians. We are worshiping regularly on Sundays in our congregations. Very likely many of us are serving as volunteers in the ongoing ministry of our congregations. I am sure that many of us are giving of ourselves to those in need. Perhaps some of us are working in agencies in our communities that provide a healing hand to the most vulnerable.
On a personal level, we seek to witness to our faith in our daily lives, among our families and in our neighborhoods. We seek to practice what we preach and to live by values and standards that have always characterized Christian believers.
Granted, it is not always easy to live the Christian life, and there are many occasions when we fail to do so. But we keep at it because we know that this is our calling as God’s people. According to Peter, God has “called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
It is this marvelous light that we see in the face of Jesus Christ. Not only does he call us to be lights in a dark and troubled world. He calls himself the “light of the world.” He is a living light that shines over us and ahead of us. He had his own dark night, as he gave himself up to death. But God, who is mightier than death, brought him back and alive to be our hope and our salvation. As the Psalmist sings, “the Lord is my light and my salvation.”
Jesus is God’s marvelous light for us who believe. He covers our darkness with his gracious forgiveness. He opens up the future for us and gives us hope in him. He opens the present for us too and empowers us to serve and follow him in our daily lives. And he never deserts us either, but is always with us to guide and lead forward. He is a “light to the nations,” and as we are his people. He has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Paull E. Spring is the pastor at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in State College. He can be reached at Pastorspring2@verizon.net.