Proclaim His Excellencies | A Look at 1st Peter 2:1-12 (Part 3/6)

By Jonathan Moseley

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10

 Sometimes sharing about God feels more like paying taxes—an obligation we dread but know it needs to be done. We find talking about our faith more burdensome than beautiful. One reason we might shy away from Peter’s call to talk about God is because we fear what others might think. Perhaps we’ve grown too familiar with God and our hearts just can’t replicate the awe we once felt over his love. We are trying to get others excited over something we’re not all that excited about ourselves. Deep down, we sense our own fakeness. Or truth be told, we are comfortable with the level of relationship we have with God, so why step out into something that seems scary at times? Can’t our relationship with God be private? Why does it need to go public?

The Miracle | Chosen

What’s beautiful about the Gospel is how profoundly personal it is. God meets us individually—he pierces through our own sinfulness, which blinds us. He changes us so fundamentally that we essentially become a new person. Jesus’ death and resurrection make available to us the greatest prize in the entire universe: a relationship with God. This makes our faith extremely personal.

But personal and private are not the same thing. We can’t make these synonymous. Our relationship with Jesus was never supposed to be enjoyed in secret.  The point of God making himself known to us personally is so that we would make him known publicly. Jesus’ name should not be hidden under a bushel. His name should be shouted from a rooftop.

We shout from a rooftop when we understand the reason behind our chosenness. We didn’t use to be God’s people and now we are. This was all God—it was him  “who called us out of darkness” and him who made us into “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (v.9-10) This was God’s working, not our own.

Have you ever considered why God chose us? It wasn’t because we did all of our chores growing up and never said a bad word. Nor because we were the star athletes or the models of society. It definitely wasn’t because of our skin colors or nationalities. Why then did God pick us? The answer: he wanted to--simple as that. We should not think of ourselves worthy of God’s decision—as if he were the captain of a kickball team and he called out our names because of our amazing talents. The adjectives the Bible describes for us apart from God are not flattering: wicked, evil, and broken--yet he called us out of darkness so that he could make known to us his mercy (v.10). We were chosen not that our goodness might be highlighted, but that his mercy would be on display.  He wanted to show off his glory through his merciful choosing. We were not chosen because we were special. But we are special because we have been chosen. We are God’s people. This is a miracle.

The Task | Proclaiming

 The question now is, “For what purpose have we been chosen? What’s next for us?”

The word, that, in v.9 gives the answer. Peter says, that you may proclaim. In other words, we are made with a mission. Peter would never allow us to separate who we are and what we do. The reason we are called God’s people is because we tell the world about God. We could say that making God known is exactly what it means to be God’s people. So, we are not hoarders of good news, but heralds of it. God does not call us to keep our relationship with him to ourselves.  

This task of proclaiming is absolutely essential. As we think about the Gospel being good news, the very nature of news is words. Peter understands that the good news has spread through others announcing it (1:12) and preaching it (1:12; 1:26). While it is true that we don’t have to use words to show God’s love, we do have to use words to make God’s love known. Paying for someone’s meal behind you at a drive- thru is nice, but the driver has no idea what the motivation is behind your actions. They are not able to connect the dots between this random act of kindness and what has compelled you to show this kindness, namely, the Gospel.  Only words can explain motivations. But we know proclamation is integral in our mission because God has appointed that the supernatural gift of faith come by hearing (Rom. 10:17). So, proclaim we must.

The Joy | Seeing

You might be wondering, “Where should I start in telling others about God?”

 Here’s where I would take us in the text. We know our task: proclaim. But it’s what comes afterwards that gives us the fuel we need to do it: “the excellencies of him.” The excellencies of God are the things of God that make him splendid, astonishing, and altogether glorious. Whereas darkness keeps us from seeing God as he really is, the marvelous light God has brought us into allows us to behold him. The joy found in the Gospel is that we now have eyes to see God’s greatness and majesty. It’s this joy that transforms the task to proclaim away from something burdensome into something beautiful.

When you want to tell others about God, then, start by gazing upon his excellencies. There’s something about staring into the eyes of the one you love that moves you. Looking at what makes God trustworthy, noble, praiseworthy, and beautiful moves our hearts in admiration of him. In those times where you need to rekindle your desire for God, direct your attention to the unchanging truths of who he is. Let your heart puzzle over his transcendence, and at the same time, sense his nearness. Consider the resoluteness and strength that Jesus magnifies as the Lion of Judah, and yet, marvel at the meekness and gentleness he dignifies as the Lamb of God. Relish and enjoy what you learn about God in the Bible. I can promise you, once you really see God as He is, your heart will swell with wonder and excitement. You won’t be able to keep silent.

Sharing God is the fruit that grows from seeing God.

The Fight | Focusing

This is why I believe the biggest fight for every Christian is staying focused on his excellencies, and thus, staying joy-filled in God. The problem we might have sharing God first starts with our problem of seeing God. It’s not that God becomes boring because we know all there is to know about him. Eternity won’t be long enough to enjoy the infinite treasures you find in him. It’s that we become distracted and deceived. The eyes of our soul are often distracted by what we see in our world.  Sports or relationships or the elections or our careers catch our attention. Thinking these things will be better, more pleasing, and more fulfilling, we direct our attention away from God. This is exactly what sin is--an exchange from beholding God as our object of desire onto something else. As a result, our joy in him diminishes as well as our desire to share him.

But prevailing in this fight leads us to fulfill our purpose as God’s people. Seeing God will bring us supreme joy, and sharing will follow. You don’t have to twist someone’s arm to share engagement pictures, wedding dates, and baby announcements on social media. These things are fun and meant to be celebrated with the world. We want everyone to share in the joy of these big moments. George Muller--a well-known evangelist in the 1800’s, a man who opened up over 100 schools and cared for over 10,000 orphans in his lifetime said, “the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was . . . how I might get my soul into a happy state.” He found this happiness by seeing God in his Word and this joy fueled Muller to live out God’s mission.

This is what the heart of evangelism is all about: calling others to share in your joy of Jesus. It's not a chore, but rather a privilege. You're helping add seats to a grand banquet--featuring a wonderful feast the most glorious of all hosts. What you can see, namely, God's excellencies, the world cannot. People are stumbling and tripping around in the dark. But that's where we come in; as God's people, we serve as guide to a blind world. God uses our proclamations to help the world see God. We proclaim his excellencies.

Jonathan Moseley is the Director of Community and Operations at Renewal Church.