Why We Gather Part 4: Priesthood of All Believers

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Levitical Priesthood

One of the realities of living in the new covenant is that it is no longer only the Levitical priesthood that are able to participate in worship, service and bringing offerings to the Lord.  As many directions as we could take that and apply it, one of the ways we publicly walk that out is making room on Sunday morning for participation of the whole body.  Church can easily become, for lack of a better phrase, a “spectator religion”.  We go to a building, watch a band perform, hear someone speak and go home. How we structure our Sunday morning gathering can either reinforce our theological stance of each part of the body functioning and us together ministering or set us back to a Levitical model. In that Levitical model our professional pastors, priests and musicians do the ministering while the rest of us look on.  There is more in the purposes of God for us as we all are in the Priesthood.

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 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. (1 Peter 2:4-5 ESV)

More Than Singing Songs

In the last post we looked at worship in song together as we gather, but between our songs on Sunday, there is more often than not other forms of worship.  These different forms and expressions of worship come in what we take from 1 Corinthians as The Gifts of The Spirit. Paul lists these gifts that include words of prophesy, words of knowledge, words of wisdom, tongues and interpretation of those tongues to name just a few.

Decently & In Order

Now before we get the picture of people swinging from the chandeliers and rolling around on the floor, Paul also says of those gifts that they must be done “decently and in order”.  There has been much on TV, the internet and maybe some of our own experiences that have left a bad taste in our mouths, left us only associating these gifts with “flakey” Christians whose theological foundation is weak at best.  And it very much exists in pockets all over the world.   But I believe there is a biblical norm modelled in the New Testament that when we function as a body in, we will see the body grow in faith, see those who don’t believe come to the knowledge of Christ’s saving grace and Jesus will be honoured and shown as the main event!

So know this: Our goal is for biblical, Christ-exalting, body-encouraging and Spirit-led expressions of worship that are God’s grace to the church to worship and also walk out the mission.

Leaving Space

Between the songs on Sunday morning we leave space for people in the body to share with the leader who is anchoring the gathering the gift, scripture or encouragement.  This allows us to best consider how or when it’s to fit in and sometimes filter through contributions that may not be appropriate, helpful or in line with the scriptures.  In our recent survey we sent out to the church this was one of the things most commented on, the feeling of security and clear biblical gifts that point us to Christ and not the gift.

When we allow room for this, when we shift away from a Levitical model of church, we see a fuller expression of God’s intended grace in the church and Jesus’ continued work in the earth by His Holy Spirit.

Walking Example

I for one am where I’m at today because of a word of knowledge that was shared during a worship time when I wasn’t following Jesus.  That word so penetrated my heart that it launched me onto a journey that changed my life forever!  We have many stories at ACF of  foundational heart changes that have been shared over the years.  These stories so encourage me that there is, in fact,  a healthy word and spirit mixture that we should be valuing, expressing and teaching into in our local churches.