Friday, June 1, 2012

How to be a Good Priest

I had a Catholic friend who was petrified of priests. I’m not sure what her childhood experience was, but she was convinced that a priest would somehow just know the sins she hadn’t confessed. When we were at a conference held in a Catholic facility, every time she saw the priest she would clutch my arm and look away from him. I didn’t understand, since I’m not Catholic and I have very positive relationships with the ministers and pastors in my life.

It’s interesting to contrast good priests with bad ones. Peter says we Christians are a royal priesthood who show others God’s goodness. The priests in Malachi’s time, on the other hand, had left God’s path and corrupted His covenant with them.

The priests were God’s messengers to the people and their job was to bring life and peace by instructing the people the truth He gave them, thus preserving the knowledge of God. They should have been the first to honor His name, revere Him and stand in awe of His name.

Instead, they left God’s paths and caused many people to stumble into sin. God had made a covenant with the Levites – the tribe that produced priests. He promised to bring them life and peace, but they must revere Him and stand in awe of His name. When they broke their part of the covenant He not only withdrew His peace, He said He would splatter their faces with the manure from their festival sacrifices and the people would despise and humiliate them. As priests, their job was to lead the people to God through the rituals of worship. When they didn’t, God used the desecrated rituals to turn the people away from them.

So what can we, as royal priests, learn from those wicked priests?

We must speak truth and preserve God’s word; it’s where we learn about God. Study it, know it and rely on the Holy Spirit to make sure we understand it correctly.
We must honor His name, revere and stand in awe of Him. He is holy.
We must walk in God’s paths so that we don’t lead others into sin. Don’t let our example cause someone else to stumble.

There’s a personal dimension to this priestly relationship too. God told those priests that even their blessings would be cursed. I think that means that they no longer enjoyed the blessings. If I depart from God’s path, I may not literally have my face spattered by manure, but I will stop enjoying what God has given me. If I’m not walking with Him closely, I’ll look at what the world has and desire it. I’ll stop appreciating what He’s done for me and instead I’ll want what I don’t have.

I want to enjoy His blessings. I want to walk in His paths. I want to be a good priest.

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