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Knoxville, TN, United States
Interim Pastor of Evergreen Presbyterian Church (USA), Dothan, AL.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

We'll Never Be Royals

2017-09-24 Ex 19 02-8a, 1 Pe 02 02-10 We'll Never Be Royals




"We'll Never Be Royals"



Good morning, most high and holy ones. Thou art looking especially royal today. Might so lowly a creature as I be granted an audience with thee?

Is that the way you're greeted by friends and relatives? Well it should be.

Because you are royal. Saint Peter says so.

1 Peter 2:9 says it: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people.

Dang. That ought to make you feel pretty good about yourself. This is good news. And it's in the Bible. You ARE a royal priesthood. You ARE. Not that you will be someday. You ARE.

It doesn't say you USED TO BE, back when you were a god. With a hot bod. Back when you had hair where it was supposed to be. Back when your knees didn't hurt. Not then. Now.


It says YOU ARE. You are royalty. May the minions address you with honor and respect.



Royal. Sounds good. But what does that mean? In our day and time? Because in our country we got rid of royalty. Sort of. We still have Queen Latifah. The Sacramento Kings, Cincinnati the Queen City, the Kansas City Royals. We have an overabundance of Drama Queens – of all genders. We still talk as if we have royalty.

You might ask a smarty-pants person, "Who died and made you king (or queen)?"

We remember how royalty works.

For us, these days, royalty is not so much an inheritance, but an attitude. Royalty is privilege. The rich and famous and their lifestyles. The one-percent of the one-percent. Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash. We'll never be royals. Not that way. So when the Blessed Saint Peter tells us, "You are a royal priesthood," how do we translate that? Because I don't think he's talking about crowns and capes and carriages. Was he ever? The only crown Peter's King wore was a crown of thorns. Peter's king came to serve. The King of Kings – Jesus – was different.

Now. We all want to feel good about ourselves. It would be so great to bounce out of bed and go lean out over the bow of our boat and shout, "I'm king of the world!"

Just like Leonardo DiCaprio.

Which was great, except he was on the Titanic.

Some of us come to church in order to feel better about ourselves. Nothing wrong with that. Jesus loves you. But you still have to keep an eye out for icebergs.

How to be royal and not be a jerk about it. How are we gonna do that?




I've seen a lot of ads for those ancestry testing companies. Like 23 and Me. Have you seen them? The kits are everywhere. Drugstores. Walmart. You can literally say, "I discovered who I am at Walmart."

You spit in a test tube and mail it off because nothing could ever go wrong with that. Someone in The National Spit Lab pours yours into a machine which I would not want the job of cleaning. The machine goes boop-boop, beep and spits out a letter telling you what you're made of. Have any of you done one of these? A member of our church family did. I'm not saying who. But he says it told him he's three percent Golden Retriever.

If you trace your family history back far enough, you'll probably find, eventually, that you're related to a king, or a queen, of something, somewhere. A tiny, tiny bit of your blood is blue. That's kind of cool to think about and tell people at parties, but it's not going to pay the mortgage. The other 99.9% of us is held together with spit and a prayer. Our genes might have a dash of royalty, but the rest of us is 99.9% common.


Common. If you're not royalty, you're common. A commoner. Historically that means you're neither royalty, nor nobility, nor priesthood. That's how it went in the Old Country. There were basically three social classes: Those who prayed, those who fought, and those who worked. In Latin, oratores, bellatores and laboratores. You'd be the laboratores. The laboratories. The product-testers. Me? I'd be the priestly guy who got to do your animal sacrifices. Yippee. And we'd do all our stuff in service to the big winners of the genetic PowerBall, the King and the Queen, who had all the power and made all the rules. Ah, the good old days.

Thank the Lord for the industrial revolution, scientific revolution, French Revolution, American Revolution, several other citizen revolutions. The Protestant Reformation, the Calvinist work ethic, and democracy. Times changed.

Changed how we see God. Changed how we see ourselves. So now, the royal priesthood is a Priesthood of All Believers, thank you Martin Luther. We're equals. All men and women are created equal. And we hold these truths to be self-evident. We are all royal. We're all privileged to be workers in God's laboratory. Jesus loves us. The Bible tells us so. That's who we are. And we don't need to spit in a test tube to find out. This is true. Right?



You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people. Everybody's royal. That's super. But like they say in "The Incredibles," if everybody's super then nobody's super. If we're all uncommon, then who are the commoners? That's the tension of scripture. You're royal, but you're also common. You're a saint, but you're still a sinner. Boy, don't we know that's true.

The news is filled with people who have heard that they are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people – who take that good news and twist it into an obscenity. They would glorify their own genetics and their own geographic ancestry. And so anyone who doesn't descend from their race, who isn't a member of their tribe, doesn't count. They would proclaim their personal royalty at the expense of common union, Christ's communion, once again spilling the blood.

That's the danger. That's the iceberg. That's the perversion of God's perfect gift of love. You've gotta keep your royal balanced with your common.

You've also gotta remember that when the Bible says, "You" it means Y'all. The Bible declares that you (plural) are a chosen people, you (people) are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people – not apart, not separate, but together. But the Bible is not talking about one nation, or your personal status, or our personal ancestry. It's not about having the peasants kneel before us. Because the King of Kings came as a peasant. The King of Kings came to serve, not to be served. If there's a single drop of royalty in any of us, it's not because we're special;

it's because the King we serve,

it's because the Jesus we follow,

it's because the Holy Spirit we breathe makes us special,

makes us better than we have any right to be. Together.

We'll never be royals. But we don't have to be. Because Christ is king and we all are his laboratores, his workers, his priests.

Our Lord Jesus is the one who makes us royal. But not in order for us to lord it over anyone. You see, you can't stop with just that one verse. Peter goes on. The Bible says you are a royal priesthood "in order that – in order that – you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."


Our royal, priestly job is not to have people come to us and tell us how great we are. Our royal, priestly job is not to have God tell us we're kings and queens, and shower us with silver and gold, fast cars, tall ships, and adoring fans. Our royal priestly job is to go out, go out into the world and tell everybody else how great God is. Not to point to ourselves and ask, "How great are we?"

But to point to God and say, "How great thou art."


Bless your hearts, you're all great people. But God is greater. You may wield power; but there's always a higher power. You may even think you're not worthy. You may even think you're a royal mess. You may see yourself as something uncommonly lower than average. But you're wrong. The Bible tells me so. You yourself may never be royal, but you're part of God's royal priesthood. You're part of a chosen people. You're one of God's own. And your job is to get out there and share the good news with other people that they are, too. Go. Proclaim the Kingship of Christ. Use words if you have to. Proclaim the mighty acts of God. And when you can, do some, too. You're definitely royal enough.