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people of praise

You’re no outsider; you’re part of God’s inner circle

Ovitt

There is no doubt that we live in a success-driven, competitive culture striving for status, jobs, attention and affection. Amid an impersonal sea of others on the same mission, we flounder on, seemingly on our own, to “make it happen.”

This common catch phrase captures the gist of our youthful inadequacies: “I feel like a nerdy underclassman, with the crackling voice, asking the prom queen out for a date!”

Even if this was not your experience during your teen years, the same game is afoot in the adult world with only slightly different rules.

Let’s face it – even as adults, there are times we feel like we’re on the outside looking in. The good news is, as Christians, the Bible tells us that quite the opposite is true. Consider a verse that Peter wrote to a beleaguered group of Christians scattered throughout the Near East following the Neronic persecution in Rome.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession (a peculiar people), that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Although this is a single verse written long ago, its meaning has relevance to us today. In an effort to encourage those disillusioned, Peter uses a number of descriptive words to remind them (and us) of our true position before God.

He begins by saying that we are a chosen people. In this text, Peter used the Greek word “eklektos,” which literally means to “be called out.” This describes us as being unique. In reality, we are the “called-out ones of God.”

Secondly, Peter reminds us that in essence, we are royalty. Here he used the Greek word “basileios,” translated in English as “king.” Whereas in the Old Testament the Levites served as priests, as Christians we are designated to a dual role as “king-priests,” much like the Old Testament patriarch Melchizadek.

Thirdly, Peter calls us a holy nation or people. In this case, the Greek word “hagios” is used and literally means “set apart for the service of deity.” Once again we are reminded of our distinctiveness and purpose before God.

Peter concludes this description with an adjective that, for many years, people reading the English translation of this Greek text thought quite strange. In the King James Bible, it would seem that we are to be a “peculiar” people. In today’s vernacular, “peculiar” is most often defined as something odd or weird.

But a close look at the text shows us that Peter didn’t mean that at all. The Greek word he chose to use is “peripoiesis,” and it literally meant “to make around.”

It was a declarative forensic term, speaking of legal procession. By using this term within this sentence, Peter is declaring that God, more or less, looks at us, puts us on the ground, then draws a big circle around us and announces, “you are mine!”

Peter concludes his message by describing our function as believers, and by doing so he places us within a very special cast of characters.

The phrase “may declare” is “exaggello” in the original Greek and is a compound word meaning literally “to announce and tell something.” In this case, we are to “tell out” the message of our salvation and to offer God praise.

An interesting point here is that “aggello” is where we get our word “angel.” An angel is God’s messenger, and so are we. Peter is saying that you and I are to be like angels.

How do we do this? How are we to be “angels” of the good news? First and foremost, we need to “live” it. We are to show others the goodness of God by the way we live. It is by our living that skeptics are silenced and honor is given to God. This begins by having a clear understanding of what and who we are, along with a firm grasp of our true purpose.

See yourself today, just as you are, before God. Let him draw a circle around you and hear him say, “You’ve been bought with a price … you are mine!”

Rod Ovitt is founder of Logos Institute of Biblical Studies in Fort Wayne, which teaches religious, seminary-type classes to adults (www.logosbiblical.org). If you are interested in submitting a column (750 words or less), send it to Terri Richardson, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email trich@jg.net. Include your name, organization and phone number. For more information, call 461-8304.

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