What concepts come to mind when you think of the word, priest? I was at an organic church recently and I asked that question. The answers ranged from a ‘a person to go between God and man’ to ‘a holy man’ to ‘one who offers sacrifices to God’. How would you answer the question?
In the Old Testament, we learn that priests main job are to bring two parties at odds together for peace. In other words, a priest is a go-between for man to God. A priest was to mediate between himself and God (Lev. 9:8, 14:28-29), between his family and God (Lev. 16:6, 16:11) and between the people and God (Lev. 9:15, 10:17, Numb. 8:19). Priests are also to do wha is in God’s heart and soul (1 Sam. 2:35). These responsibilities are a high calling. It was an honor to be a priest in the Old Testament and only a small percentage ever had the honor to a priest. To be a priest of Jehovah was the best job one could have.
The New Testament also talks about priests of God but the application for priests was changed. As the church age began to mature, the church seemed to revert to a more Old Testament concept of priest where one man would represent a whole group of people before God and also speak for God to the people. The Catholic Church has promoted this Old Testament concept of the priesthood for over 1700 years now. On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg, in this he began to deny the priesthood as it was then known and began to elevate the concept of the priesthood of every believer. This truth is certainly found throughout the New Testament (1 Pet. 2:5-9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10).
Martin Luther changed the theology regarding the truth that every believer is a priest before God but since 1517, hardly anything has changed in practical terms in the church. Whether Catholic or Protestant, most churches simply do not allow the common people (the laity) to administer communion, baptize believers, perform weddings nor are they trusted to impart the Word of God with authority to people. In reality, there still is a division between the clergy (priests or pastors) and the laity (common people). This division must be done away with by doing away with the laity. We must adopt the Biblical concept that every believer, from the moment of salvation is a priest of God and is capable of pointing people to Jesus for salvation, strength, hope and faith. Every believer is a child of God, equally connected to the head of the Church, Jesus Himself. Every believer has the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of God is able to minister to and flow through the youngest and newest believer with powerful results (Mark 5:1-20 is just one example).
So today, we must recapture the truth that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a priest of God to the nations to bring the Good News of our King to their ears and hearts. It is our distinct honor to do so.
How should the truth that every believer is a priest for God change the church?
If you lived out this truth, that you are a priest of God , how would it change the way you do life?
I would like to hear your insights.
(Find Ed’s original post on his blog: Thoughts Out There by Ed. http://edwaken.blogspot.com/2011/04/rethink-prieshood.html)