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God's People

1 Peter 2:9-10 

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 "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a HOLY NATION, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; [10] for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (NASB)

 While snipers, soldiers, and biochemical experts are hard at work keeping athletes at this summer's Olympic Games safe, elite priests will also be on duty to deal with matters of the soul.  Orthodox priests from the Church of Greece will be available to any athlete at any time. They will also hold morning and evening services every day at the Olympic Village.

 A spokesman, Father Economou, said the priests are multilingual and speak European or Slavic languages and have received special instructions.  They will have printed material in foreign languages for athletes.  Economou added, "Not just any priest could do this work, they have to have special qualifications."  The church of Greece also instructed area churches to clean up their property, ring bells sparingly, and have brochures ready for tourists who are interested in the country's Orthodox heritage. (Http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)

 I'm glad the church of Greece is providing this ministry for the athletes and am sure the spokesman is right when he says these priests are especially qualified for the job they are doing. But even if he is right, I wince when I read his words, "Not just any priest could do this work..."  The whole concept of "Elite Priests" helps to widen a troubling gap between ministers.   There is a sense in which ministers  need special qualifications to do the work of the Lord, but that doesn't mean there isn't something for everyone to do.  God has placed us in us special spiritual gifts that allow us to do the work He's called us to do.  Everyone, not just priests and pastors are ministers.

 The scripture never taught the division of laity and clergy.  All of God's people are to live holy lives and to serve Him.  In the Old Testament, there was a priestly order, but its function was to serve and guide the people of God.  The New Testament declares Christians are " . . . a royal priesthood . . ."  If the division isn't biblical, when did it appear? Kenneth Scott Latourette answers that question in his book, A History of Christianity Vol. 1.  He writes, "As early as the beginning of the second century a distinct cleavage had begun to appear between clergy and laity, and this in spite of the fact that in the first century every Christian was held to be a priest unto God.  By the end of the second century the clergy had clearly become a separate order . . . " (p. 133)

 Latourette refers to the priesthood of the believer here.  I've casually mentioned the Doctrine of the Priesthood of the believer the past few weeks and haven't had time to fully develop in those sermons.  Unfortunately, there isn't time to do so today either.  But I have prepared a two page paper for you to take home and read if you are interested.  You can pick one up at the information table at the back after the service. (Http://www.freshministry.org/pob.html)

 For now, I'd like to develop the idea of being the people of God, beginning with The Exclusive People of God.
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