What concepts come to mind when you think of the word, priest? I was at an organic church recently and I asked that question. The answers ranged from a 'a person to go between God and man' to 'a holy man' to 'one who offers sacrifices to God'. How would you answer the question?
In the Old Testament, we learn that a priest's main job was to bring two parties at odds together for peace. In other words, a priest is a go-between for people and God. A priest was to mediate between himself and God (Lev. 9:8, 14:28-29), between his family and God (Lev. 16:6, 16:11) and between the people and God (Lev. 9:15, 10:17, Num. 8:19). Priests are also to do what is in God's heart and soul (1 Sam. 2:35). These responsibilities are a high calling. It was an honor to be a priest in the Old Testament and only a small percentage ever had the honor to be a priest. To be a priest of Jehovah was the best job one could have.
The New Testament also talks about priests of God, but the application for priests was changed. As the church age began to mature, the church seemed to revert to a more Old Testament concept of priest where one man would represent a whole group of people before God and also speak for God to the people. Some portions of the church have promoted this Old Testament concept of the priesthood for over 1700 years now.
On October 31st, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg, in this he denied the priesthood as it was known and elevated the concept of the priesthood of every believer. This truth is certainly found throughout the New Testament (1 Pet. 2:5-9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10). Martin Luther called out a change in the theology regarding every believer being a priest before God. Even still, since 1517, hardly anything has changed in practical terms in the church. Whether Catholic or Protestant, most churches simply do not allow the common people (the laity) to administer communion, baptize believers, perform weddings nor are they trusted to impart the Word of God with authority to people. In reality, there still is a division between the clergy (priests or pastors) and the laity (common people). This division must be destroyed by doing away with the laity and elevating all to priesthood.
We must adopt the Biblical concept that every believer, from the moment of salvation is a priest of God and is capable of pointing people to Jesus for salvation, strength, hope and faith. Every believer is a child of God, equally connected to the head of the Church, Jesus Himself. Every believer has the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of God is able to minister to and flow through the youngest and newest believer with powerful results (Mark 5:1-20 is just one example).
So today, we must recapture the truth that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are a priest of God to the nations to bring the Good News of our King to their ears and hearts. It is our distinct honor to do so.
Originally posted here
We hope the trainings, resources and the Hanging Great Weight on Thin Wires: Can Small Groups Become Missional and Make Disciples? by Neil Cole below encourage & challenge you as you are living it out in your part of God's World.