Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
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.What do you feel as you read these words from 1 Peter? I don't know about you, but I feel a sense of unworthiness. How am I spiritual enough, holy enough, acceptable enough to be built into God's house? Why would God choose me to be part of his royal priesthood? How can I proclaim the mighty acts of him who called us out of darkness into light when I still feel sometimes like I am living halfway into the darkness?
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. (1 Peter 2:5, 9-10)
Thankfully, the answer to all of these questions comes in this same text. The only way that I am worthy of all of this is through God's mercy. One helpful reminder of God's mercy that I often find myself praying is called the Jesus Prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me a sinner." This can be shortened to the even more easy to pray: "Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy." I wonder how it might change my perspective if I prayed this throughout the day?
Often when I wake up in the morning, the first thing I think of is this verse from the Hebrew Scriptures:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
I am so thankful that the Lord gives me a fresh start every day, that with each new day, the slate of my sin is wiped clean by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Then, throughout the day, when the ministry outlined in 1 Peter seems too much for me, I have this little reminder on my bookshelf that gets me focused in the right direction again. A notecard with this saying from the Jesuit priest, Peter Byrne, was given to me by an Episcopal priest and friend....
We are simply asked
to make gentle our bruised world,
to tame its savageness,
to be compassionate of all (including ourselves),
then--in the time left over--
to repeat the Ancient Tale and go the
way of God's foolish ones.