Do you see yourself as royalty? We’ve been looking in the mirror, and asking “what do you see, and do you like it?” We have talked about words spoken over you, and about your value in the eyes of the Lord. He looks at you tells you that you are precious, special and that He has a destiny for you, a wonderful, incredible and amazing destiny.
So today I want to talk more about your destiny and talk about who you really become when you come to Christ... Refugee or royalty?
When you come to Jesus, you are a hopeless sinner. The price for this sin is death, eternal death in hell, separated from God.
But when you accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, not only do you have life forevermore, but you have a new, transformed life right now. Not pie in the sky when you die by and by, but real power and life to the full starting now!
So in this message, I want to look at who we really are. Are we refugees or are we royalty? When you look in that mirror, who are you? We need to understand the position we now have in Christ and start living up to it!
Let’s have a look at this passage…
1 Peter 2:9-12 (ESV Strong's)
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 marvellous 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.
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
You are an alien, an exile in this world and mark my words, people are watching you and your good deeds.
CRYING LIKE A REFUGEE
Today the UNHCR tells us that there are currently 22.5 million refugees in the world—the highest in history. In addition there are 40.3 million internally displaced people; and 2.8 million asylum-seekers. In 2018 we are quite familiar with what refugees are, and this passage was written to refugees in the first century AD.
The mostly Jewish followers of Christ who first read this book were scattered throughout the Roman empire. They faced harassment from both the Roman government and local synagogue leaders. In fact, their entire society had turned against them, and they were suffering as persecuted refugees. Worse than being a Christian and interviewed on the ABC!
The passage calls them sojourners and exiles. The Greek words used here imply that they are foreigners, people without citizenship, power or protection. Completely despised, completely overlooked, completely taken advantage of, as are many refugees today. These people doubted their significance, doubted their worth and were without hope.
Last week we talked about feelings of worthlessness, and sometimes as believers we experience this feeling. We are strangers, we are aliens in a world that is against us and alienated us.
Philippians 3:20 (ESV Strong's)
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
Christians are refugees in a hostile, foreign land. But listen to this…
Missionary Henry Morrison and his wife were returning to New York after years of service in Africa As the ship neared the dock, Henry said to his wife, “Look at that crowd. They haven't forgotten about us”. However, unknown to Henry, the ship also carried President Teddy Roosevelt, returning from a big game hunting trip in Africa. Roosevelt stepped from the boat, with great fanfare, as people were cheering, flags were waving, bands were playing, and reporters waiting for his comment. Once the crowds dispersed, Henry and his wife slowly walked away unnoticed and alone.
“This isn’t much of a homecoming,” said old Henry, and the Lord spoke to him and said, “You’re not home yet!”
WHO ARE YOU REALLY?
Those early Christians needed encouragement as they struggled to stand strong in a world where most lacked citizenship, recognition, respect, or privileges. Today, as we strive to find our own places in society and in the church, we need to know who we are in Christ. We need to look in that mirror and see not just that we are precious and valuable, not just that we have a future, we need to see who we actually are in Christ.
Peter in this passage raises our confidence about our God-given significance and capabilities. This passage shows us who we really are…
1. A CHOSEN RACE
Peter tells these believers that they are not rejects from humanity, but that they are among God’s elect, God’s chosen race or generation, selected based on His foreknowledge and born again to a living hope as His children!
Ephesians 1:4-5 (ESV Strong's)
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
So we are not a bunch of rejects, no matter what they say about us on Facebook or in the media. We are a chosen race, chosen before time began to be His people, His representatives, adopted into His family.
What a privilege, what an honour! I have said that destiny is a series of choices, and yes we must make a choice to accept Jesus, but hey, He knows in advance what we will choose, and before we even face that choice, Jesus chooses us!
John 15:16 (ESV Strong's)
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide,
We are not rejects, we are chosen by God as His children to bear fruit for Him that lasts!
2. A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD
God’s plan is to build a kingdom of priests, priests of royalty, and you are part of it…
1 Peter 2:5 (ESV Strong's)
you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament, priests were set aside to offer sacrifices for the people. Now, however, we all have a priestly role when we come to Christ, and we can all offer not animals for sacrifice but our bodies as living sacrifices, fully available for His purposes!
Romans 12:1 (ESV Strong's)
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
We often talk about ministry as if it belongs only to professional church staff, like there is some magic in these hands. Yet Scripture describes ministry as the calling and responsibility of every Christian… because we are a royal priesthood!
Recently I had someone leave this church because as the pastor I was not available enough for him. He had a problem, he wanted me to drop everything on my day off and minister to him to his level of satisfaction. Three other people contacted him, one of whom I had referred him to because they are an expert in the area in question, but this wasn’t good enough… he only wanted the pastor.
This is a traditional outdated model of who a pastor should be, but as your pastor, I love you, but I cannot reach that expectation. I still work in the secular world 4 days a week, I minister as pastor evenings, lunchtimes, before work and all weekend, and I still travel with an evangelist, record music, manage websites… oh, and somewhere in all that I also have a wife and family. I am richly blessed but time poor!
Ignite runs on teams. The Lord has blessed me with wonderful teams of people who minister beside me in pastoral care. So if you have a need, we have many, many godly, mature, wise people here to love and care for you. I cannot hope to meet every need of every one of you every time!
Nor should I, because we are all of us priests, all of us able to connect with God. We need to learn to minister to each other, love and care for each other, pray for each other, even sacrifice for each other, because we are a royal priesthood, and as we shall see, royalty rocks!
3. A HOLY NATION
God not only calls us to be His children, He calls us to be holy!
1 Peter 1:15-16 (ESV Strong's)
but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
What does this mean? It means that our lifestyles should reflect the character of God. We must tolerate people in love, but we must not tolerate their sin. God calls us to be a nation set apart for Him!
We saw this in the recent plebiscite. Our country got it wrong. We were told that if we love homosexuals we must give them what they want, but that’s not true. We can love them, care for them and honour them as people and still not agree with their demands! I love my children, but I do not agree with everything they do, and I don’t give them everything they demand!
The eyes of the world are on our actions. If we compromise God’s standards to keep the peace with a godless world, we look just like everyone else. No, we need to stand for what is right, and live lives that are billboards for Jesus. You and I are the only advertisements for Christ some people will ever see!
4. A SPECIAL PEOPLE
In the KJV this phrase is “a peculiar people,” which actually means we are His possession, and therefore get special treatment. Don’t you love it when you are treated as special? Don’t you love it when people accept and honour you in a unique way? Peter is saying that this is how God sees us! We are precious, and special and we get special treatment and privileges others don’t have. In fact, we are royalty, because we live and serve God!
Isaiah 43:4 (ESV Strong's)
Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.
Ephesians 2:18-19 (ESV Strong's)
For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
We are His kids, and get special access to God and His throne room. That’s what prayer is! At the age of 2, Kaileigh already has figured out that, no matter what her mum says, if she asks Pa for a lolly, she almost always gets one. She has special privileges like we do when it comes to our Heavenly Father!
Why do we get such a special relationship with God? I don’t know, because I surely am not worthy of it, yet He chooses to bless me and my family, to be close to me, to draw me nearer His heart.
THE JOURNEY FROM REFUGEE TO ROYALTY
Let me finish by taking you on a journey from rags to royalty… so that when you look in the mirror, you see yourself as who you really are. Not a downtrodden refugee, but as royalty… You start as a…
I know I’m a sinner, and I bet you know you are too! Our sin separates us from God, and our sin will send us to eternal separation from God forever in hell.
Revelation 20:12,15 (ESV Strong's)
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
We start life condemned to eternal death in hell, but Jesus paid that price for us, that if we accept Him as Lord we will not go to hell, but will be with Him in heaven.
Hell is real… so what is hell like? People say they won’t mind going to hell, because they can break open a pack of cards and have a few drinks with their mates… no they won’t! Hell is eternal separation from God and everything about God.
God is light, says the Bible, God is truth and joy and fellowship and worship, the greatest experience you could ever have, and it lasts for ever.
If you want to see what hell is really like, look at the cross! Hell is pain, torment, darkness and intense loneliness. No light in hell, no fellowship in hell.
If you haven’t accepted Jesus and His free gift of salvation, do it now, while you still can. Life is short, fragile and unpredictable, so turn and receive by grace His gift of eternal life.
Today there are more than 35 million people living in slavery, including forced labour and prostitution. But there are billions of people unknowingly living in slavery every day, and you might be one of them. Are you a slave to sin? To your unbridled passions? To money? To someone else like an abusive partner? Fact is, you are going to be a slave to something!
You can be saved and be a Christian, yet still be a slave to sin in your life…
Romans 6:16-18 (ESV Strong's)
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
So the choice is yours… stay a slave to sin, or step up and become a slave to righteousness, because you’re gonna have to serve somebody!
When you decide you’ve had enough of being a slave to sin, you can accept Christ and live like it and become a saint!
Coming to Christ is a fresh start. Billy Graham said, "How many times in your life have you wished you could start all over again with a clean slate, with a new life? Resolve right now to allow God to wipe your slate clean by confessing your sins and letting Him give you a brand-new start."
A saint is not some famous dead guy, and it’s not a St George football player.
Ephesians 2:19 (ESV Strong's)
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
When you come to Christ, you become a saint, and instead of being a slave to sin, you become a servant of the living God…
Mark 10:42-45 (ESV Strong's)
And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
I stand here as a servant of God, and I also serve you, as your pastor, however inadequately. I’m not higher or lower than you, because we are all saints, all priests and all servants. But here’s the cool thing…
5. SON OR DAUGHTER (ROYALTY)
John 15:15 (ESV Strong's)
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
When you serve the Lord as a slave to righteousness, Jesus becomes a friend as well as a master. But He doesn’t stop there… the Bible says, you are adopted into His special family
Romans 8:14-15 (ESV Strong's)
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
You are a friend, but then you become royalty because you are adopted as His child, a son or a daughter of the King of Kings. That makes you a princess, or a prince. So, folks, you are royalty, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.
Recently we saw a beautiful lady named Megan Markle become royalty. She is an actress, part African American and a divorcee, an unlikely mix for royalty. Yet she is now royalty, the Duchess of Sussex. How can this be?
This happened because someone chose her. She didn’t deserve it and she hasn’t worked for it. Megan Markel became royalty simply because Prince Harry chose her to fall in love with. She didn't strive for royalty, she did not work for royalty. She was chosen, a favoured person, and because royalty because the Prince chose her.
And Jesus chooses you! Not because you deserve it, and not because you’ve earned it. He just chose you to become royalty, that’s all. The problem is that we mentally understand this, but often don’t live like it!
LIVE LIKE ROYALTY
That’s my challenge to you… We ought to live like the royalty we are! Think about what that means.
A Prince or Princess always wants to represent the King well, not to pursue their own agenda. They answer to the King alone, not the opinions of those around them. Certain actions are beneath them. They always look composed, and they hold to certain standards of behaviour, speech and dress.
Royalty do not become entangled in the filth and dirt of this world, but they live a life of privilege, honour and power, respected not for what they do or achieve, but for who they are… because they are kids of the King! Their agenda is to do the King’s business. They live a life of power and privilege, but with great authority comes great responsibility.
In the same way we may to be in the world, but not of it. We need to live a life of privilege and power in the Holy Spirit, a holy life that pleases the King and represents the King’s interests.
In West Texas during the Depression, Mr. Ira Yates was like many other ranchers and farmers. He had a lot of land, and a ton of debt. Mr. Yates wasn’t able to make enough on his ranching operation to pay his loans, and he was in danger of losing his ranch. He had little money for clothes or food, his family (like many others) had to live on a government subsidy.
Day after day, as he grazed his dwindling number of sheep over those rolling West Texas hills, he was no doubt greatly troubled about how he would pay his bills.
Then a seismographic crew from an oil company came into the area and told him there might be oil on his land. They asked permission to drill a wildcat well, and he signed a lease contract.
At 1,115 feet they struck a huge oil reserve. The first well came in at 80,000 barrels a day. Many subsequent wells were more than twice as large.
In fact, 30 years after the discovery, a government test of one of the wells showed it still had the potential flow of 125,000 barrels of oil a day. And Mr. Yates owned it all. The day he purchased the land he had received the oil and mineral rights. Yet, he’d been living on government relief. A multimillionaire living in poverty. The problem? He didn’t know the oil was there even though he owned it.
So today is the day that you and I begin to live like royalty. We can be bold, we can be confident, we can act like we own the place, because our Dad does! As we serve and honour Him, we can ask whatever we want according to the will of the King and be confident that He hears us and cares for us.
Hebrews 4:16 (ESV Strong's)
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
You can confidently approach God’s Throne, knowing you have an insider’s relationship with the King.
It’s time to stop acting like commoners and become royalty, to step into our God given destinies as sons and daughters of the King! Megan Markle is no longer acting in Suits, Grace Kelly stopped making movies when she became a princess, because common careers are laud aside as we serve the Ling, and Him alone!
Today some of you, many of you, understand what I’ve been talking about in principle, but you are not living like royalty. Maybe you’re a slave to sin… royalty aren’t slaves! Maybe you are being kicked around by life… royalty do not get pushed around by the public. You have unfathomable spiritual riches, but perhaps you are living like a spiritual pauper. You are royalty, and need to live like it!
Today all of us, every single one of us who have accepted Christ, today we will be reminded that we are royalty, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, a chosen race… sons and daughters of the King of Kings. Princes, princesses, adopted into royal lineage... royalty!
When a King was inaugurated in ancient times, they were anointed with oil. This is a sign to the people, and to any enemies, that they were the King.
Today I’m going to do something crazy and, if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, that you join me in this craziness. Today I want us all to be anointed today as Royalty, and from today we shall live as the princes and princesses we are, that we have been destined to be!