1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) - 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 marvelous light.
The advertising industry is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise. Some
of the most creative and intelligent people in the world develop
campaigns using a multitude of media to represent products, services,
and interests to capture people’s imaginations (and money!). In Latin,
the word “ad vertere” means literally to turn the mind toward.
Peter was no advertising genius. But he did understand the
people of God were his “advertisement” in a hostile and evil world.
Peter wrote to Christians experiencing increasing suffering and
persecution under the ruthless Roman emperor, Nero. Peter used numerous
images that have their roots in the Old Testament to remind the
beleaguered Christians of their identity and role as the people of God
in a hostile world.
Peter tells the early Christ-followers that they are “a chosen
people,” a select people defined and unified by common habits or
characteristics. He calls them a royal priesthood and holy nation. Peter
roots their identity in the Old Testament concept of the priesthood. In
the Old Testament priests were to represent the people to God and God
to the people. Peter refers to Exodus 19:6 when God tells Moses that
among the pagan nations, Israel as a nation was to be a “kingdom of
priests.” The nation of Israel as a whole was to represent the reality
of God to a hostile world. Representatives embody the interests, values,
and identity of an agent (in this case God) to a foreign entity.
Peter then tells the persecuted church that they are a people
of God’s own possession—the idea that God has marked a ring around this
people to identify them as particularly his. For what purpose? For the
people to literally be a walking advertisement—to proclaim or publish
abroad his excellencies, the very things that characterize God and his
heart for the human race: namely, loving one’s neighbor, social
compassion, fairness, honesty, sexual integrity, economic generosity,
Peter’s words remind the church that we are a representative
people, a walking “ad vertere” of God’s holiness and character, and that
this has deep implications for how we engage in the realities of
society and everyday relationships.
PONDER: If your life were an ad campaign for the reality of God in the world, what would it turn people’s minds toward?
REFLECTION or DISCUSSION
If someone were to closely watch your life what would they see?
Would they see you as a follower of God? Or would they focus on how
much time you spend at work? Or in the garden? Imagine your family as a
living advertisement. What are you advertising?
Read 1 Peter 2:9-10. These verses say that we are chosen
to proclaim the excellences of God. How are you being a light for
those around you? What are you --- is your