Finally, number 5, a church is not a theocracy.
Now from what we’ve covered so far, it might look like the church is a theocracy, in other words, a kingdom, because it is a group of people who are ruled by a king. And so, some Christians go about trying to set up a theocracy or behave like a theocracy – in other words, they try to mix church and state in such a way that the church rules the state, but wherever in history the church has gotten too much political power, it has always eventually gone corrupt.
And that’s because the church is not a kingdom and it’s not meant to become a kingdom yet. The Brisbane theologian Graeme Goldsworthy summarised God’s kingdom as God’s people in God’s place under God’s king. And the church represents God’s people under God’s king, but currently, we have no place: we have no home country. As Peter says in 1 Peter 2:11, we are foreigners and exiles living in this world. And while we have a king, he is not with us physically, he is with us in Spirit. One day, he will return to earth, and he will reign over all the earth, and we will reign with him, and at that point, the church will become a theocracy, but until that time, we remain strangers and exiles in this world.
And while we live as strangers and exiles in this world, we are called to live as royal priests.
And you can see this idea twice in 1 Peter 2.
Firstly in verse 5:
you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
And then again in verse 9:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
So the church is not a theocracy, it’s a royal priesthood living in exile. What does that mean? Firstly, this priesthood is royal. And it’s royal because we are brothers and sisters in and with Christ, which means, we are brothers and sisters with the king of kings, we’ve been spiritually reborn into a royal family. If you are a member of Christ, you are cosmic royalty. Prince Charles’ royalty will look like dirt compared to yours when Christ comes back. So we’re not just this [SLIDE] – we are this [SLIDE].
But then secondly, we are called royal priests [SLIDE] (represented by this blue sash). If you are a member of Christ, then congratulations, you are a priest. And that means two things. 1. You are automatically fit to minister. And 2. You do not need an additional mediator to get to God.
Firstly, you are fit to minister – to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ, according to Peter. What does that mean? It means that God treats all of your prayers and all your good works and all your love for others as pleasing spiritual sacrifices to him, and they are acceptable to him, because you are acceptable to him. And you are acceptable to God because of the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus paid on the cross for us.
And then secondly, if you are a priest, you do not need an additional mediator to get to God, because Jesus Christ himself is your mediator. He is the Most High Priest, and you, as a priest under him, can confess your sins straight to him. He brings you into a relationship with God; no human being on this planet can do that for you.
And so, if you become a member of this church, I don’t want you to view me or any other leader here as THE priest or THE minister. It is unbiblical to have a special class of Christians in a church who are called priests or ministers. In Christ, we are all priests and we are all ministers. It’s not as though I get paid to do the work of ministry, and you watch. No, Jesus Christ is THE pastor of this church, and I get paid as a pastor under him to help you do ministry: to help you go out into the world and do good, at school or uni or work or at home or wherever, and to spread the fragrance and beauty and love and truth of Christ.