Los Alamos Church of Christ
Priesthood of all Believers
Several years ago, we put together a couple of pages for our website to help explain who we are to people in the community; new or curios. Besides my sermons and the bulletin, which I update each week, we have…
--The history of our congregation;
--A page on our core beliefs using Ephesians 4:1-6… one body, one Spirit, One hope… One faith.
--A page we call… Distinctiveness. This is a page where we point out how we are different from many of the other religious groups.
On the Distinctiveness page we have seven points. Not that all of these seven are completely distinct from other religious groups, but perhaps, together they describe our uniqueness.
1. Approach to the Scriptures:
2. Priesthood of ALL Believers:
3. A cappella Music:
4. Family Model of Worship:
5. Congregational Autonomy:
Number 2 on the list is the… Priesthood of ALL Believers. Here is what our webpage says…
--We believe every Christian is a priest.
--Every Christian has the privilege to come before the throne of grace and connect to God. There is no clergy or laity.
--All men and women are called to serve before God as his priests. In worship any Christian can lead prayer, read scripture or offer Communion.
--We believe in open communion; everyone is invited to participate.
--We want people to be honest in their search for God, so we attempt to create an atmosphere which is open to questions and expressions of other points of view.
This morning I want to explore this Distinctiveness. I want to remind ourselves of the Priesthood of all believers…
--First, I want to establish the priesthood of all believers from Scripture;
--Second, I want to dig a little deeper into what the priesthood of all believers means;
--Then, we will apply this principle to what we have learned about the nine temperaments. We have spent all year learning how we connect to God through the temperaments, now we can apply what we have learned to the priesthood of all believers.
Let me establish the Priesthood of All Believers… scripturally.
Let’s begin in the beginning… with one of my favorite Old Testament verses…
ESV Genesis 3:8-9 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?"
I assume from these two verses that God walked in the cool of the evening with Adam and Eve regularly; perhaps, every day. In the Garden before the fall there was no need for church. There was no need for prayer. There was no need for sacrifices. There was no need for priests. Every evening God would meet with his precious kids in order to find out how their day went. Adam and Eve would tell them about their adventures. “We discovered a weird bird today. It had this huge orange beak. It was bright yellow and made this terrible squawk. So, we called it a Toucan.”
Adam and Eve’s relationship with Yahweh was intimate. There was no need of religion.
But, after their sin with the serpent, things changed…
--They were discharged from the Garden.
--Things became hard.
--Death came into the world.
--Perhaps, worst of all, was the loss of connection with God, there were no more evening walks with God.
--The intimacy of the Garden was lost.
--Then, we find Cain and Abel offering sacrifices… religion was created.
-- Abraham, even though God communicated with him, did animal sacrifices.
Skip a bunch of years, God tells Moses to build a Tabernacle. This Tabernacle was the place where God’s glory lived. This Tabernacle was the thin place where heaven and earth intersected. To maintain the Tabernacle, God instituted the Levitical priests. Aaron and his family begin to intercede for the people. They did priestly things in the Tabernacle. The book of Leviticus establishes all kinds of sacrifices and libations and offerings and feasts and holidays and scapegoats and days of atonement. God, through Moses, created a religion which was centered on God’s presence in the Tabernacle. These priests connected the people to God through the Tabernacle.
But, I believe this was a temporary solution until Christ came. Christ came to this earth to begin a process of moving us back to the Garden. Christ came to begin moving us back towards personal intimacy with God. Christ came to change religion. Christ came to create these thin spaces of worship, where we can recapture a glimpse of the “walking with God in the cool of the evening”.
Listen to the fundamental change between the OT Tabernacle - which became Solomon’s Temple, - and the NT concept of temple.
ESV 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.
ESV Ephesians 2:21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
ESV Hebrews 3:6 but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
ESV 1 Peter 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
As Christ began to move us back to the Garden, which we will one day live in without any need of religion, Christ changed the Temple. The thin places where heaven and earth intersect, now are within us. It is the body of Christ. It is when we come together…there are thin places where we can connect to God.
As priests we connect to God… here… today… right now! We all are priests! Christ ended the Levitical priests to form the Priesthood of ALL believers!
Let’s dig a little deeper into what this means…
The priesthood of All believers means…
--We do not have specially designated priests. Any of us can connect to God.
ESV Hebrews 10:19-25 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
(explain as read) All of us are priests… we can be priests to each other. We encourage each other as we are priests to each other!
--No male or female, no young or old, no rich or poor, no educated or uneducated… We ALL are priests.
ESV Galatians 3:25-28 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
All of us who have faith in the Lordship of Christ Jesus… can be priests to each other. Race, social status or gender… or age can all be priests. Isn’t that wonderful? We have two teenage girls leading singing. Who else does that? They lead us with their talents into the thin place of worship together.
--No slick or Un-Slick…
I call this the David Todd Principle because he expressed it to me several years ago. David Todd calls it the Anti-excellence principle because it is more concerned with involvement than show. Paul calls it the weak then strong principle…
ESV 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
There is no talent required to be a priest. But that is not the point. When we are priests to each other when there is no skill or slickness required the power of Christ shines forth. When you are a priest to me even in your lack of priestness, I experience the power of Christ through you. When we are weak the flow of Christ comes through!
The Priesthood of ALL believers is a precious distinctiveness. When we come together we come together as priests we ALL form a holy temple. We All form a thin place of intimacy of our Father! We are priests to each other.
Now let’s see what happens when we apply the Priesthood of all Believers principle to the nine temperaments…
The Priesthood of ALL believers fits together with the concept of temperaments… works together… flows together.
ESV Romans 12:3-8 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Paul all but says temperaments. It the TIM version he does say temperaments…
TIM Romans 12:3-8 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the temperament that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually priests to one another. Having temperaments that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if Contemplative, in proportion to faith; if Caregiving, in our serving; the one who is Intellectual, in his teaching; the one who is Enthusiastic, in his exhortation; the one who is a Sensate, in generosity; the one who is an Activist, with zeal; the one who does acts of Asceticism, with cheerfulness.
As priests to each other we create thin places of connection with God in his temple…
--The Intellectual priests help us know God…We teach each other to know the LORD.
--The Caregiver priests are the glue which binds the body together in love… In serving each other we connect to serving the LORD.
--The Traditionalist priests remind us of who we are. In our rituals, our routines, our symbols we refresh tracks on our memories of intimacy with the LORD.
--The Enthusiast priests keep us connecting with zeal in worship. When the songs are thumping, we jazz with the LORD.
--The Sensate artful priests bring beauty to our body. Creation is to be like the Creator. Being creative in art or word moves us back to the beauty of Eden. It foreshadows the recreation of the earth in beauty.
--The Ascetic priests model the intimacy of perseverance. Being faithful in a million boring little things connects us to the LORD in attention to the preciousness of detail.
--The Naturalist priests say…”Look at our creator! Let’s connect in the in the most beautiful cathedral of his world. We need to remember God is the Creator!”
--The Contemplative priests teach us to love the Lord… in better metaphors… living as servant, as child, as lover… these priests point us to the intimacy of the LORD.
--The Activist priests join the LORD in confrontation with evil. They say… Let’s change it! They move us to set the world to right… they create thin places where we connect to the heart of the LORD for the oppressed.
We are priests to each other. We use our temperaments to draw each other closer to the LORD. Each of us as priests using our temperaments creates thin places of worship connecting to the LORD.
Quickly let’s move back to our website and the Distinctiveness page…
1. Approach to the Scriptures: We all are engaged in the scriptures… I certainly don’t tell you what to believe… Our classes express the priesthood of ALL believers.
2. Priesthood of ALL Believers: Is who we are… intentionally.
3. A cappella Music: We typically don’t use instruments because of our heritage. But also because it reflects the priesthood of all of us…there is no show we just sing our hearts out.
4. Family Model of Worship: where we laugh, cry, sing, praise and express thanks as a family of God. Our special times of sharing during our assemblies create amazing thin places.
5. Congregational Autonomy: We are only who we are… no top down or bottom… we are all priests! Without any hierarchy to intervene.
6. Baptism: together, dunked, and family circle… precious reflection of the Priesthood of ALL believers.
7. Facilities: This place is only holy when we come together to create connection. The rest of the time it is used to benefit the community.
All this is who we are as we express our priesthood temperaments.
Let me just say… I love our congregation. I love who we are. I love that we are all priests. I love that we all are priests to each other. We don’t always agree. We don’t always like each other. But we are priests to each other. As we use our individual temperaments to bring each other into intimacy with the LORD! That is quite distinct!
--How should I be a priest?
--To ask how do create thin-places of worship?
--Where do I offer myself as sacrifice?
Stand and join me in reciting The Shema…
ESV Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
My temperament is God’s gift to me.
My temperament is my gift to God.
My temperament is my gift to the body.
My temperament is my gift to the world.
October 23, 2016
Los Alamos Church of Christ