1 Peter 2:9 – 10
9 But 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.
10 Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.
Those to whom this author writes are the people of the Church – near the end of the first century, they have been exiled, perhaps from Jerusalem, or perhaps by persecution from other cities. They may be Jews, or perhaps a combination of Jews and Gentiles. They had not been a tribe or single group before; they had not been a people. But, they became a church. And as a church, they become God’s family. They had not known God in their former life, but now they knew God. They had not known God’s mercy, God’s grace, but now they know both mercy and grace. They are chosen by God.
As a church, these people together become a royal priesthood, are chosen by God to be his people. But they are not chosen so that they may bask in being the chosen ones; they are chosen so that they may serve God, and show his love to others. They are not to fall for the mistakes Israel had made, thinking their special status meant they should isolate themselves and ignore the rest of the world, that they were better than others. But the church is to be God’s royal priesthood, to tell others of God’s mighty acts – of the story of Jesus, of the salvation he offers through the actions of Christ Jesus, of the way he has pulled them out of darkness and given them light.
And we, today, are God’s chosen people. Yes, you and I are chosen by God to be his people. But in this passage at least, we must lay aside our North American individualism, and think of ourselves as a church. This author is not talking about the individual change in our own hearts, although he alludes to that when he says we have known mercy. For by God’s mercy and grace we are chosen and called to him, and have opportunity to accept his gift of grace, which, by the way, is available to all. But that is not what this author calls being a chosen people. He is talking about the community of people, the church.
As a church, we become a royal priesthood, God’s own people. But with that comes responsibility. Way back in Genesis, God told Abraham he was blessed to be a blessing to the world. In just such a way, we are blessed to be a blessing; we are chosen to spread the Word, to tell of God’s mighty acts. We are chosen to BE God’s church, and church is much more than a place where you go to worship God – church is the community of believers who work together. Christ gave us the Church, that we might be his body down through the ages. We get it wrong sometimes, contaminate the message with our human message of hate and fear, get caught up in our human need to control others. But when we get it right, we are a community, we love one another, we serve one another and serve our neighbors, and people see only love in us. Then – we are God’s chosen, a royal priesthood, a holy people, God’s own people. Then, we are very near the Kingdom of God.