“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light—1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)”
Peter opens this verse with the word ‘but’ to signal a turn of events. From verse four to this point, he has been talking about those who rejected the Living Stone.
And then he turns to another group of people: “But you….” he says. You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people. You have been loved and accepted and approved and validated by God. God’s grace has reached down and walked among you and within you. It now flows in your veins.
You don’t deserve a thing but God who is rich in grace and mercy has bestowed on you everything.
You chose to be enemies of God, but you, God has won over to Himself—you are his chosen people.
You ran away from God, but you, God came running after and He won you back to Himself.
You had made the worship of Baal your very existence, but you, God has saved and made you a royalty of priests.
It’s all by sheer grace, you deserved nothing of it—even now you deserve none of it—in fact you deserved the worst, instead you received the best—but you—are loved with a love that cannot be undone.
Peter goes on to deliver the last part of the message, “…so that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
This verse has both an imperative and a triumphant indicative. Imperatives are demands—what God says we should do, while indicatives are statements of truth—in this case, what God has done for us, free of charge, through His Son.
In principle, indicatives ground the imperatives. In other words, what God has done for us is the fertile soil in which what we should do grows. Worship is a product of God’s workmanship. Worship is always a response to something, not a requisite to it. For instance, companies choose the employee of the month and hang their portraits at the end of the month, after they have done the work, after the customer ratings have gone up and sales improved. The employee will enjoy the buzz and praise after accomplishing the task not before. Point is: Worship is a ‘response to’ something not a ‘resource for’ it. Genuine worship comes out of a sense of gratitude for what has been done for us.
We don’t declare praises to God so that we will become a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a people chosen by God; we declare praises to God because we already are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a people chosen by God.
Worship is not a “so that” affair but a “because…therefore” affair. In the Psalms, praise is declared because something has happened, not so that something will happen. Even Paul, in his paradigm shifting letter to the Romans only breaks into doxology (praise to God) after he has given his readers a reason to—that they have been fully and finally delivered from their sin.
Deliverance always produces doxology. We don’t worship for salvation; we worship from salvation.
When you forget what God what God has done for you, you will slip into a moralistic religiosity, then you will praise because everyone in your family has been doing so for the last 79 years, not because something has been done for you by Someone outside of you to birth a sense of praise. Or you will forget to praise all together.
It is thus important to always remember what God has done for you freely—saved you, and what you are—chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a people chosen by God. When you bathe in that, sing it, speak it, and let it be the fuel which burns you, you will faithfully and truthfully “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
That is your Lifeline, AMEN.