Are you a Priest? Your Response has Consequences!
Who is a Priest?
What comes to your mind when the word “priest” is mentioned? You would think of a man with cassock who is playing one role or the other in a temple. It takes deeper thought to see him as someone who has been separated from others to perform specific duties by a deity.
I recently watched a Christian service on the TV. As the praise and worship session crawled poco a poco towards a zenith where it seems angels came down to embellish the music with additional chords and voices that moved God closer to men and men nearer to God, I saw a lot of people in the congregation shedding tears uncontrollably. By their dresses, you know that most of them are not intoxicated with the “opium of the poor” but drunk in the Spirit. If you asked many of them whether they were priests, they would say no.
The Christian limited understanding of priests as people in the ordained ministry is majorly responsible for our inability to influence and win our world for the Lord. Please read the following scriptures meditatively.
And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. Exo. 19:6.
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 1 Pet 2:5
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 1Pet 2:9
And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Rev 1: 6
What are the consequences of not recognizing we are priests?
We think, talk and behave anyhow.
A few years ago, I was in a meeting where a bishop eulogized a couple that prevented an embarrassment. As a young and dynamic priest, he wore a pair of jeans trousers and a T-shirt on his way back to Nigeria. As he landed, he was told he had just been elected a bishop of a diocese in Northern Nigeria. The couple had to quickly arrange a dress that was “befitting” a bishop elect.
Priests are often well behaved while in cassock. It is people that are yet to recognize their priesthood or bishopric (Acts 1:20) that still argue with their pastors on what to wear and what not to wear, where to go and where not to go, what to do and what not to do!
President of nations don’t talk, act, eat, drink, relate anyhow as that would mean betraying the responsibility placed on them. If you see someone wearing a very white apparel toying with palm oil, you should be able to determine the level of maturity of the person. The Message Bible renders Ecc 10:16 thus:
Unlucky the land whose king is a young pup, And whose princes party all night.
Until a child of God recognizes his priesthood, he cannot a live a holy life.
Demanding for what we should give
When believers don’t see themselves as priests, they would come to church / fellowship for blessings rather than to be a blessing! Of course, the house of God should be a place of blessings. Nothing is wrong in coming to be blessed but everything is wrong in not being a blessing! Years ago, I was told that some people have stopped coming to church because they were not getting enough drugs from the church clinic. My response was brief and simple. God is not happy with parasites. People that complain most in most churches are the least contributors!
They will complain that the pastor is not praying enough for them as if they don’t have mouth to pray for the pastor. They are hardly appreciative as they do not know the sacrifice that goes with the benefits they enjoy freely. Intercession, financial support, emotional uplift, educational assistance, motivation, marital bliss etc. are not free! No free lunch in Freetown even if you are not the one paying the bills!
If you don’t have money to contribute in building the church, don’t you have energy to carry block as a volunteer? If you cannot afford to buy a pew, can’t you afford to clean at least a pew every fellowship day instead of complaining that your skirt was stained because the pew was not well cleaned the last time you came?
When you realise you are a priest, then it would be easy for you to practice what is in Gal 5:13. In love, you would be ready to serve others!
We push responsibility to others
Another common consequence of not seeing ourselves as priests is the tendency to push responsibility to leaders. If the attendance is dwindling or income is falling, we are quick to judge the pastorate. If we are not ministers, we would blame ministers for the woes befalling the fellowship. Hardly would believers that don’t see themselves as priest realise they have a role to play in evangelism and follow up.
I recollect attending a vigil years ago in tertiary institution in Nigeria. While others were “lost” in worship, I could not flow. Since I also wanted to experience God, I begged one of the ushers to ask the brother on the piano to stop playing as he was totally playing off key. He gave me a brilliant look and said, “If you’re so gifted to have noticed the discordant music, why are you not a member of the choir?”
Beloved, as priest, you should realise that whatever lapses you notice in your place of worship could be a burden you should bear to lighten the load on the leadership. I believe it is useless to point out an area needing improvement when we are not willing to lead or play major roles to ensure improvement.
We remain at a level where we cannot be promoted.
I teach my children and those around me that promotion is not for the person that does enough. The world is highly competitive and since men will be used by God to elevate you, the extent to which you to take charge in rectifying whatever is amiss would not go unnoticed when it is time to formalize responsibilities.
Sacrifice is one of the major responsibilities of priests. The tribe of Judah had no share of land like others as the Lord is their inheritance. Priests may appear not to enjoy what others freely enjoy but don’t wonder why men of God that remain faithful to Him and their calling eventually appear like the Lord’s favourites!
Philip was chosen as one of the deacons to serve bread (Acts 6:5). By the time we get to Acts 8, we see him portrayed as mighty evangelist, winning souls by his preaching and diverse miracles. Until I began to see myself as a priest, I never knew I could be used for anything supernatural. I thought my role in the church was to play musical instruments!
We grow in materialism rather than spirituality.
Priests don’t live for themselves. Unknown to many, much of whatever is given to a priest goes into satisfying the needs of his flock (except the priest is not a good shepherd). I know men of God that there is no point giving them money to buy clothes as it would go into ministry work. Just buy the dress and give them. Priests don’t hold things tightly as they are at all times conscious that there is nothing we have that did not proceed from God and so are willing to part with anything to remain on the Lord’s side. It is recognition of our priesthood that would not make us like the world, people who want to add lands to lands even when people don’t have a place to worship!
Inability to fulfill the purpose of influencing our world for the Lord
We are supposed to be salt and light to our world. The lost kingdoms of this world can only be redeemed by the men and women that have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Priests are highly influential as they are seen as representatives of God. No matter how secular our environment –be it school, office, pub etc could be, if we are not seen as God’s representatives, then we have failed in purpose! We don’t need the cassock of a priest in order to be salt to our world. When light comes, it needs no announcement, darkness simply vanishes.
If however evil continues where we are, if people can continue in their iniquities despite our presence in place, it is because we have not been good priests. Tell me, which normal Christian wants to be drunk with alcohol when his pastor is around? Which man would behave unseemly towards a woman that is not his wife in the presence of his priest? If evil prevails where you are, it is because you are not a good priest. A tolerated evil is a perpetuated devil!
God decreed a covenant of peace with Phinehas because he made atonement for Israel when he killed a Jew who despised God by fornicating with a Midianite in a supposed holy camp at the hour God was rebuking Israel for whoredom. Num 25:6-13.
Satan can take advantage.
Each of the head of families in Exodus 12 had a choice not to regard Moses instructions as regards the Passover. The devil does not want each believer to know his rights and responsibilities. If fathers in Israel had failed to offer the Passover expecting the Levitical priests to do all on their behalf, what would have happened to their firstborn?
Anytime that the people of God suffer afflictions that are for Egyptians, it is because priesthood has been left to a very few people. The more the people that urinate on a spot, the more the foam. The more the fuel that is contributed to a fire, the more and possibly the longer it burns. If however more of the people are pouring water or extinguishers than those contributing fuel, we should know what to expect.
In conclusion, when a church is vibrant, growing in power and influence, affecting lives and community positively, it is not just the efforts of the leaders. While we must appreciate them, it should not be because of the results but because they have done some good job replicating themselves by allowing their followers to see themselves as priests, leaders, participants in progress and not mere parasites. If you have more parasites than priests, after sucking you dry, they will still grumble and complain that you have too little to offer their ever growing appetite!
Are you a priest? Until you see yourself as a one, you most possibly are not!