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
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
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