This morning I was facebooking with a friend about the dangers of allowing our primary identity be “a sinner saved by grace.” I understand the concept but I think it makes for bad theology and even worse life-ology. Really, when I read the Bible I do not walk away hearing I am a sinner. I hear things like, “you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a possession of God.” (1 Peter 2:9)
This is RADICALLY different than saying I am a sinner saved by grace. To begin with, I am now part of a “chosen race.” If your family tree is as sketchy as mine this is good news – I belong! This also means that I can no longer categorize people according to race, but must look at each person as someone who can be invited in to God’s chosen people. No more racism. Too often I hear people who are only “sinners saved by grace” excuse their racism by saying, “I’m not perfect.”
I am also given a vocation according to this passage. What does a sinner saved by grace do? I’m sure we can come up with some answers but none of them are inherent to the title “sinner saved by grace.” But if I am a royal priest that means at least two things. First, I now belong to a royal family – my Father is the king! Second, I have a job to do. Priests offer sacrifices, receive confessions, bless people and make known the people’s requests to God. This is my job … even if I’m not ordained or a pastor or a missionary. That’s incredible! Even if the world says I am useless, my Father – the king – says I have a job to do.
I am part of a holy nation. My earthly citizenship, whatever country it may belong to, now becomes subservient to my kingdom citizenship. My allegiances must shift and everything I do I must first ask, “Is this the kingdom way of doing this sort of thing?” The primary characteristic of this nation is holiness – character – that is defined by love. God is love so I assume God’s character is loving.
Finally, I am owned by God. The world doesn’t own me. My job doesn’t own me (even though for most of us we might feel like it does!). My desires, my temptations, my past, my future, nor anything in all creation owns me. I am God’s possession.
How different would our conversations be if we were to live out of this as our primary identity? Are we sinners saved by grace? Absolutely, but in Jesus we are so much more! So go, and be all the priest you can be today offering spiritual sacrifices on behalf of those you run into. Go, knowing that you belong to God and nothing can separate you from his love.