On Stewardship and the Orthodox Life - Part 98. A Kingdom of Priests

“Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the first-born of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests…” (Revelation 1:5-6 RSV)

In the Biblical history of God’s dealing with His people in the Old Testament, we see God forming a people by telling them, over and over, what He had done for them and what He will do for them. “… you shall be my people, and I will be your God" (Jeremiah 30:22 RSV). God had created them; God had freed them from slavery; God had given them the Law and the way He wanted them to live. In all of this, unfaithful as the people were, God kept on being their God, saving, preserving, and, ultimately, sending His Son for the sake of their eternal salvation.

Having sent His Son, and having raised Him from the dead the focus in the New Testament is not so much on what God has done as it is on what His people can do for Him. What God chooses to do is to form His people into what St. John the Apostle reports to us in Revelation as a “kingdom of priests.”

A priest is one who sacrifices on behalf of some group or individual. Thus, this “kingdom” of priests, this nation of priests, is a collection of people who sacrifice on behalf of others. As early as Exodus 19:6 (RSV) God called Israel to be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” This seems to be the plan of God all along. All people, given the nature of Christ, are to become as Christ is: one who sacrifices for others.

This nature of people being priests who sacrifice for others shows up from time to time – but, unfortunately, not often enough. The 2005 hurricanes Katrina and Rita found churches around the country mobilizing to help the devastated residents of Louisiana and Mississippi. They opened their checkbooks and church buildings to help displaced people from these natural disasters. Some churches provided permanent housing and health care for those who had homes no more. This was a kingdom of priests in action, sacrificing of themselves for those in need.

To be a part of that kingdom of priests, Christian stewards offer something that is dear to us. Christian stewards sacrifice not only in times of dire need, but all the time, in every situation, for anyone in need. We give not because someone has lost something, and we thing they need it again. We give because God has offered us so much. We, as the people of God, respond to God’s great goodness by our continually being priests: those who sacrifice on behalf of others.

This weekly series of brief thoughts on stewardship and Orthodox life is brought to you by your Diocesan Stewardship Commission.

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