As the church we are called to be a Royal Priesthood and a Holy Nation. What does that mean in practice? Obviously there is a call for kings to rule and reign and priests to intercede. There has been, and is, much talk in some church circles of our rights as ‘royalty.’ While true there is an aspect that seems to be neglected in the process. I have said a few times over the years that while the US has a Statue of Liberty on the East coast they need a Statue of Responsibility on the West coast to balance things out. Similarly in Canada we have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, (http://www.publications.gc.ca/collections/Collection/CH37-4-3-2002E.pdf) an important document, yet perhaps we also need a Charter of Responsibilities. With this as a background look at the scriptures below which highlight our high calling.
5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.” Exodus 19:5-6 (NKJV)
9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV) 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Revelation 1:6 (NKJV) 10 And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:10 (NKJV)
Given the preceding scriptures should we not just focus on our rights? No. We all have a tendency to view scripture through the lens of our culture and circumstances. With great privilege comes great responsibility. While we in Canada function on paper as a constitutional monarchy, which has been continuously in place since 1534, (http://www.parl.gc.ca/About/Senate/Monarchy/SenMonarchy_00-e.htm) this is currently a formality. The Queen of England currently has no real influence or authority over our laws and actions. Yet in our history we have something sown that we in our church culture need to understand in relation to responsibility. There is a verse probably few have read and if they have it has only been of passing interest. Yet it tells us something very significant.
25 Then Samuel explained to the people the behavior of royalty, and wrote it in a book and laid it up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house. 1 Samuel 10:25 (NKJV)
What is the ‘behavior of royalty?’ It has long been understood in the old monarchies and nobility even if it is currently neglected. My friend who is 90, the same age as Queen Elizabeth II, understands this and holds Elizabeth in high esteem because she saw her coronation and the seriousness with which she embraced her role as monarch. It is not a job for the faint of heart. We tend to think of it as a role of privilege but in actuality it is replete with responsibility.
Inherent in true monarchy and nobility is the concept of noblesse oblige. The term refers to the moral obligation of the privileged to display honorable and generous conduct. It comes from French and literally means, ‘nobility obliges.’ That is because inherent in a noble position is a responsibility, an obligation, to behave in a certain way, what Samuel called the ‘behavior of royalty?’
We see this millennia ago in scripture.
8 But a generous man devises generous things, And by generosity he shall stand. Isaiah 32:8 (NKJV)
8 But the noble man devises noble plans; And by noble plans he stands. Isaiah 32:8 (NASB)
The reason for the variant translations of the same Hebrew word is that it carries both meanings. Inherent in generosity is a sense of nobility and inherent in a sense of nobility is an obligation to be generous. They cannot be separated. So, if we in the church want to focus on our rights and privileges as our culture does, that is fine. We just need to understand the responsibility and obligation that comes with the privilege. I will let Paul have the last word in this leadership series to highlight our high calling and responsibility as ambassadors for Jesus.
9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences. 2 Corinthians 5:9-11 (NKJV)
20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20 (NKJV)
NOTE – with my next post I will begin a series called Unveiling the Eternal, a look at the Throne Room experiences in scripture and their significance.