One Aspect of What it Means to be a Priest
Doing Things Jesus' Way in the Churches
Mzuzu, Africa, 1996
No Special Titles—We are All Priests
The book of Revelation says Jesus purchased us and made us a Kingdom and priests to serve our God (Rev. 5). If we are all going to be priests, we need to know what it means to be a priest. If we are going to experience God’s power in our lives, we must agree with God’s thought for our lives. Jesus said, “Go…and I’ll be with you.” He taught us, “Do my will…and I will give you Life and Power.”
False christendom has for many years pushed people down. It has taken a few people and pushed them up making some “leaders” rich and famous and powerful, while pushing most people down. In the United States, India, Poland, Romania, Brazil, and all around the world, there are “hero” Christians and “low” Christians. This is very wrong. Jesus said to the twelve apostles in Matthew 23 to “Call no man teacher, call no man father, call no man leader, call no man master, call no man ‘rabbi,’ call no man ‘pastor,’ call no man ‘reverend’—for you are all brothers with one Father!” There are no “heroes” in True Christianity except for Jesus. There must be no official bosses who control the decisions, the money, and the people—except Jesus in and through His People together by His Spirit.
A Living Sacrifice
When God wants us to be priests, He has a thought in His mind. A priest offers spiritual sacrifices to God. You can do that. God wants you to do that. That’s not for “heroes.” That’s for all of us. A spiritual sacrifice—there are many parts to that. One part of a spiritual sacrifice, as Paul said, is to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. God wants you to be a priest by offering your body as a living sacrifice. Jesus wants your tongue, your eyes, and your ears. He also wants your mind, hands, and feet. You can offer the parts of your body as instruments of righteousness only. Or you can give in to sin, selfishness, pride, lust, and fear. But Jesus wants us to give all the parts of our bodies to Him as a sacrifice everyday, and we will be priests. Most people know about this first part of being a priest—offering your body as a sacrifice. Not many people will do that, but most people know that. Will you all do that?
Serve the People and Help Each Other be More Like Jesus
Another function or part of a priest’s duties in the Old Testament that not many people know about was to serve the people—not just to offer sacrifices, but also to serve the people. A priest in the Old Covenant would bring God to the people. Now, in the New Covenant, we are all priests. If you are truly a follower of Jesus, you are a priest. We don’t sit and watch the priest do God’s thing. We are priests. Do you believe in your heart that you are a priest? Then bring God to the people. There are two ways you can bring God to the people. One way is to tell others about Jesus in your neighborhoods. We are all priests, so we all bring Jesus to our neighbors and friends and families. Amen?
A priest also brings Jesus to the family of God. We do tell others about Jesus and His ways, but there is another way we bring Jesus to the people. Let me be very practical here. If you are a priest, you will help others become more like Jesus. If we look at a picture of Jesus in our heart and see Who He is, then look at our brothers and sisters and see a difference between them and Jesus, as priests, we live to make them the same. Is Jesus selfish? Are any brothers and sisters selfish? You are a priest; help them. Is Jesus afraid? If you ever see a brother or sister that lives in fear, help them. Does Jesus care for the little children? Did He say, “Bring the little children to me.”? If you ever see a brother or sister that doesn’t love the little children and care for them, then help them change. That’s what a priest does. You help everyone become more like Jesus. If Jesus were married, would Jesus have ever been angry with his wife and yelled at her? If Jesus were a wife, would He ever be angry or selfish with His spouse? You know the answers to these questions. Jesus is Wonderful in ALL things!
You are priests. You must help your brothers and sisters become more like Jesus. This is very risky. This is dangerous. Why? Because someone might think that you are being prideful or judgmental. But no, you are being a priest as God has called you to be. We don’t want to have pride or be judgmental. We want to have deep, deep love in our hearts for everyone. But we must beg them to change, to become more like Jesus—because we are priests of God. Every one of us is a priest of God. But we each have our own problems, too. There are things about each of us that are not exactly like Jesus. If I believe that you are a priest, then I must listen to you if you see things in my life that are not like Jesus. I must welcome you as a priest to see into my life and to help me. So we have courage and love to help others. We have courage and humility to have others help us and to speak into our lives. Church is NOT a place that you come to. Church is people being priests together. You become the Church when everyone helps each other everyday become more like Jesus. You are not a Church because you come somewhere and listen. You are a Church because you care deeply for each other every day. The Church is called the Body of Christ. If we are not helping each other become more like Christ, then we are not part of His Body. We must help each other.
Holy Father, Lord God Almighty, it’s our prayer together that You would open our eyes and those of all your children everywhere. Holy God, show us how to be priests. We beg You for the courage, the help and the wisdom to be able to touch each other’s lives. We beg You for the humility and the courage to welcome other people speaking into our lives. We need You so much. We want to be Your Church. We want to kick down the gates of hell and love each other into greatness. Holy Spirit, help us. Teach us Your ways. Help us to change fast. We do love You very much. Give us Your wisdom. We know that Your House is built with wisdom, and we desperately need that. Amen.
“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church. If he refuses to listen even to the Church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:15-20).
Most people that hear verse 20 think that this means when the Church is together and we are happy worshipping then Jesus is there. We sing praises to Jesus, we feel good and we feel His presence. While this is all true, this is not what verse 20 is about. This verse does talk about people being together and Jesus coming to be with them, but He is not talking about worship here; he is talking about solving problems. He is saying that as we are all priests and we help each other be more like Jesus, there are times when we will need to come and speak about things in each other’s lives. If you see me being selfish, you need to come to me and tell me this. If you sisters hear another sister gossip, you must talk to her about this. Gossip is sin. Gossip breaks Jesus’ heart. Gossip is slander and hurts Jesus. So if we see that these things are sin and wound Jesus in the side, as priests and as the body of Christ, we must help each other.
Jesus said that if there is sin you must “go to him and him alone” (v. 15). We never want to embarrass anyone or shame them. In love, we just want them to become more like Jesus. If they are selfish or if they gossip, they can’t hear God. Since we want them to hear God, we must help. If they are selfish or prideful or slanderous, then they can’t love God or love people very well. So as priests, we must go to them and help them become more like Jesus. But we must be very humble. We are not wagging a finger and pointing; we are grabbing their legs and begging them to give their lives to Jesus. We want so much for them to have a friendship with God, and they can’t have a friendship with God if there is sin in their hearts. So our master and teacher Jesus says to go to them and to them alone. Do not shame them nor embarrass them. Love them. But go to them and help them. You are a priest; you must go.
If Two or Three Others Come…Jesus Comes, Too!
Jesus gives us solutions to problems if things are difficult. If we go to a brother or sister in humility to try to help and they say, “Go away, I don’t want to listen,” or “Don’t judge me. Get the log out of your own eye.” Jesus gives us a solution to this problem. There is a chance that you might be wrong, but you still must go if you think you are right. You must try. If you are afraid to try, then you can’t be a priest. You can’t make Jesus happy unless you try. Sometimes you will be wrong, though, and that’s okay, because then you will learn from that too. Jesus said that if you go to this brother or sister and they won’t listen, then bring two or three others to try to help. This is not a teaching about “church discipline”. This is a teaching about how to help each other.
“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).
Do you see how beautiful this is?!! If you need to bring two or three others to talk to this brother or sister, Jesus comes too. Where two or three are gathered to do His work, Jesus comes. This scripture is not about a worship service. This is about working together to help each other become like Jesus. If we go to a brother or sister, and they won’t hear us because they don’t understand or they don’t like it, then we bring two or three others with us. This is a command of Jesus. He didn’t say if they won’t listen to you, just forget it or just pray about it. He said if they won’t listen to you, bring two or three other good brothers and sisters, and Jesus will come, too. If we come in His name to do His work, He will come to help. He goes on to say that if that person still won’t hear two or three witnesses, then tell it to the whole Church. Again, this is not “church discipline”; this is about bringing all the priests together to try to help solve a problem. That is very, very good.
Our Jesus is wise beyond measure. He’s a Wonderful Counselor, isn’t He? Jesus said that if we have problems being priests trying to help each other, we can bring in more people to help. If I come to you and I think that there’s sin in your life and you don’t agree, maybe it’s because I’m wrong—maybe I don’t see things correctly. When we bring two or three witnesses, maybe they’ll tell me that I’m wrong. So Jesus wins, and everyone grows! This is a very special thing that you must understand if you’re priests. Things don’t always go smoothly, but we must have courage and love. We must obey Jesus in what He said to do when things don’t work well. If things don’t work well we must involve other people and listen to Jesus together. Sometimes one person is right. Sometimes the other person is right. And sometimes they’re both right and we just don’t understand. Sometimes they’re both wrong. But when we obey Jesus’ command to bring in two or three others—if we are all listening to Jesus and really caring—then Jesus will solve our problems and help us.
A Wonderful Tool
The Great High Priest will help all of His priests. But we must do it His way and not be lazy by not talking to each other. We must not be afraid to bring in others and talk about it. And if someone has come to speak with us, we must be willing to invite two or three others to come and talk with us. Because I love Jesus and I love the truth, and I’m willing to be wrong. Inviting others to help is a very wonderful display of God’s wisdom. I know if two or three others come, Jesus comes, too.
As priests, we must think about these things and put them into practice. This is not a game. We are not trying to hurt each other by going back and forth talking to each other all the time. It’s not about being a policeman. But it is about loving each other enough to try and help. Where there is sin, the ears are closed up to hear God. Where there is sin, the eyes are blind to see God. So as priests we must help each other to hear and see God by helping to remove the sin.
Jesus gave us these tools in the toolbox. If we can’t solve the problem one-on-one, then He gives us as priests this tool of bringing in others to help solve the problem. This is even true in marriage. If my wife has a problem with me and I won’t listen, I expect her to obey Jesus and bring in two or three others. Jesus didn’t say all of this is true except in a marriage. He said these things are true for all believers. These things are true for all priests. If my wife sees sin in me and I won’t listen, she must bring in two or three others. I want her to do that, because I love Jesus. Is that what everyone wants? This is challenging, isn’t it?
Welcome the Knife…for Healing
Each time, the knife will hurt. But Jesus is the Great Physician, and He cuts out the cancer to make us whole and strong. These things we are talking about will hurt a little bit sometimes. But if you will listen to Jesus’ way and be humble and loving, then He will make you very strong and wise and whole. He will heal all of your diseases of the heart and the body. He will put deep love in your heart and give you Life. You will have Rivers of Living Water gushing from within you and Peace that passes all understanding. You will have a Joy that can’t be expressed, full of Glory. You will have the Power of an Indestructible Life. If you will do things Jesus’ way and be priests, you will no longer be just “normal” people. You will be Full of the Holy Spirit and Wisdom. But you have to welcome the knife to cut out the sin. You must be glad for the help, even when it hurts. This is the mind of a disciple of Jesus.
Anyone can sit in a building and listen to words. But Jesus has called us to be priests and kings. Paul rebuked the Corinthian believers when he said, “You are acting like mere men, like normal humans.” But God has called us to judge even the angels. He has called us to be Full of Life and Glory and Power like His Son, Jesus. But we must welcome the knife to cut out the sin. We must help each other in order to experience these things for ourselves and for the Church. These things are very, very real. God said, “Try me, test me and see.” Obey the ways of Jesus and be priests everyday. Be priests in your neighborhoods. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices and help each other be more like Jesus, and God will pour out blessing upon blessing into your hearts.
Come to Give!!
There is another part of being a priest you must understand. This is small compared to the other things we just talked about. You must offer yourself as a living sacrifice and bring Jesus to the people, helping them to become more like Him. But there is part of being a priest that also has to do with meetings or gatherings. If you’re not offering your body as a living sacrifice loving people in your neighborhoods, and helping each other become more like Jesus every day, then the meetings don’t matter. But if you are doing those things as priests, then this is another part of being a priest.
If Jesus were physically in this room right now, He might be totally quiet sometimes. But most times Jesus would have something important to say. Jesus is here right now. If you really believe that you are a priest because God said so by the Blood of Jesus (not because you feel worthy, wise or strong), then you must be a priest in the times when the saints are all together, too. If Jesus lives inside of you and if you have been baptized into Him, into His Life and into His Spirit, then you too can hear God. As a priest, Jesus can speak through you also. You will never come to just listen or just sing. You will never come to just pray with everyone. If you are a priest, you will come to give. The book of Hebrews speaks of this.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
This is speaking of when the saints are together. In the first part it says to consider how to help each other grow. “Consider how to spur each other on to love and good works.” So as a priest, I come together with the saints thinking of how I can give and how you can give. You must have the courage to say what Jesus wants you to say. Don’t be afraid of being wrong. If you are wrong, you can grow. Then it goes on to say, “don’t forsake being together.” You need to be together often “…and all the more as you see the Day of the Lord coming,” as you see Jesus getting closer and closer.
No Pretending, OK?
Jesus got very, very angry at only a very few things. Jesus got very angry at hypocrites. He got very angry at people who pretended to be a certain way when really in their heart they were a different way. Jesus got very angry about that, and He still does. We must not pretend to be one way, when really, in our hearts, we are a different way. We must talk about it with our brothers and try to solve the problems openly and honestly. God said, “Confess your sins to one another.” Confess and pray that you can be healed. Many people are very sick inside, spiritually or physically, because they won’t open up their hearts and confess their sins to one another. They are afraid to do that. But in God’s House we must not be afraid, because we love each other and we want to help. We will not gossip. We will not reject each other. We will help each other. So we can confess our sins freely. We will be sorrowful, but not afraid. Jesus will help us and clean us. But if we pretend there is no sin, then we are hypocrites and Jesus is angry. Jesus was and still is angry if we are hypocrites. We don’t want Jesus to be angry with us, do we? So we must open our hearts.
Don’t Bury Your Talent
Jesus was also angry at another kind of person. He was angry at the man who buried his talent. Jesus called that man a wicked servant. He cast him into outer darkness. What I am saying to you is, as a priest, you must not bury your talent. God has given each of you something special in your life. If you are a priest, use that thing that God has given you. The man in the parable that buried his money was afraid. Jesus was very unhappy with him for burying his talent. When all the saints are together, Jesus does not want you to come to just sit and listen. He doesn’t want you to bury what He has put inside of you. You are a priest. Have the courage, strength, and faith in God to be able to speak out with the gift He has given you, every one of you. And don’t be afraid like the man in the parable.
Consider how you might spur others on. If you are a priest with your neighborhood, with the believers, and with your body, then you can also be a priest when the saints are together. You need to be willing to bring a song that is special to you. Teach others a song that you learned when you were praying with Jesus in the morning. Perhaps you will be reading in one of the Psalms and you will ask Jesus to give you a melody for that song. And then as a priest, come and bring all the saints together, and teach them the song that Jesus gave you. That is being a priest. You must be willing to do that as a priest. Don’t bury your talent.
Perhaps a brother will come and talk to you about a sin in your life. You listen to him, and it brings tears to your eyes, like the time Nathan spoke to David and David had a broken heart. God sends a Nathan—a brother—to you and he tells you about a sin and it breaks your heart. You talk to Jesus about it and consider different scriptures concerning it. Then you bring all the saints together in one place and perhaps tell them about what Jesus taught you. You show them the scriptures that you learned that changed your life, tell them about how you fell into sin and teach them how not to fall into it. You show them the things that God has shown you. That is a priest. You are priests. You can take the things that God is doing inside of you and open them up to your brothers and sisters. God wants all of us to do that. ALL of us. Are you willing?
So we come together in Jesus’ name and we listen. But Jesus usually isn’t quiet for very long. If things are quiet for a long, long time, it’s probably because someone is not being a very good priest. Perhaps Jesus wants you to share a song and you are afraid. Perhaps Jesus wants me to read a scripture that was special to me in the morning, but I think, “Oh, I’m not good enough. I can’t do that.” And then it’s quiet, because Jesus wanted to use me, but I wouldn’t let him. I decided to bury my talent. If Jesus were here physically, it would not be quiet for a very long time because there is so much that Jesus would want to do in each of our lives. If we are good priests, we will listen to Jesus. Jesus will use each of you. He will speak to all of us through all of His priests, if we are willing. Is everyone willing? Let Jesus use you.
He Wants to Do Wonderful Things
Remember when Jesus went to a particular town. He wanted to do miracles there, but He could not because they did not believe. God wants to do miracles through each of your lives. But He cannot unless you believe. You must believe in your heart that God wants to use you. You must talk to Jesus about these things. Tell Him, “I believe. Help my unbelief.” Ask Jesus to make you soft and humble. Ask Jesus to help you have courage to use your gifts. Ask Jesus to get rid of your pride, because sometimes you will be wrong. But it’s okay to be wrong. We can help each other. It’s better to be wrong than to bury your talent. If you are wrong, we can all grow together, but if you bury your talent, Jesus is angry. So ask Jesus to help you be a better priest.
This is not about having a strong will or being a good speaker. This is about asking Jesus to help you. He is alive. He wants to work wonderful things in our hearts and through our hearts to others. But for Him to do a miracle, we must believe. So talk to Jesus about these things; don’t just think them in your head and agree with them. Instead, talk to the living Jesus about these things, and He will help us all, to His Glory.
Ask Them to Live as Priests
As you are priests to your neighbors, you can help them to learn about Jesus too. If they are part of a religious group somewhere else, beg them to be priests where they are. Beg them to use their gifts with the people around them. Don’t let them go to their assembly just to listen. Ask them to look at the lives around them and help them become more like Jesus. If everyone everywhere does these things, the world will change. This is very powerful—because we are releasing Jesus to be Jesus. If we won’t be priests, Jesus stays in a bottle or in a book. If we will be priests and ask everyone else who wears Jesus’ name to be a priest, Jesus will be released to be Jesus EVERYWHERE! Our villages will change. Our cities will change. Our countries and our continents will all change. Jesus can be Jesus if we will be priests. Amen?
As we have come to know Jesus in the last ten years, we have learned more and more about what a Church and what a priest really are, and also how to be a priest. When we learn these things, it brings us to a situation of having to understand what to do about the denominations. The people in the denominations are not enemies. Some people are there because that’s all they’ve ever known. If they knew more about Jesus, they would gladly follow. So it is very important that we love people, even in the denominations. We are very careful to not be proud. When God gives beggars like us a little bit of food, we should share the food and not judge others for not having food. This is Jesus’ way to share all the food that he gives us—not to separate because of food, but to offer food.
These things are very, very important to have right in our hearts and minds. We will not accept lukewarmness or compromise. But we do believe Jesus will build His Church. So when we find people who really do love Jesus in the denominations, perhaps we shouldn’t say, “Come out, come out,” but instead, “Obey Jesus with the people that you know.” We teach them the ways of Jesus as He has taught us. We ask them to teach everyone that they know the ways of Jesus. If they do this, in many denominations they will be thrown out. In many denominations people don’t want to obey God. Some people do. Some people don’t.
In the true Church that Jesus is building, EVERYONE wants to obey God and EVERYONE loves Jesus. Because we are all priests, we help each other. If someone doesn’t love Jesus, they run away.
The prophecy in Jeremiah 31 of the New Testament Church is “they will all know me, from the least to the greatest.” In the true Church, they all know Jesus. In most denominations this is not true, and there is much lukewarmness. People love the world and live in sin and don’t change. This is terrible and sad. But there are also some very good people in the denominations. Our job is not to make people come out. Our job is to help them be priests where they are. If they become priests where they are, many people will change, or they will be thrown out.
Where Jesus Is…Sin Cannot Stay
If a brother or sister becomes more like Jesus in the denomination, either the denomination will change, or the denomination will kill them or throw them out (just like they did with Jesus). We are not afraid of the denominations. They’re like a big fishing net that gathers in all kinds of fish. There are some very good fish in the net and others that are not so good. Our job as priests is to call all the good fish to be priests where they are. And things can change there.
Did Nineveh change? Jonah got spit out of the mouth of the fish and he went into that terrible city. Sin abounded there, but the whole city changed for God—even the king. We must believe God can do this in the denominations. We must believe He can do this in Mzuzu. So when we have friends or people that we know in denominations, we don’t ask them to come out. We ask them to be like Jesus with all their heart, to speak the Word of God to everyone they see there, to lay down their life, to love the people, and to not compromise or accept compromise. The people in Nineveh could have killed Jonah; he was all alone. But they repented and changed. And that’s our heart for all the denominations—that we will be priests and try to help everyone change. We will try to help the good people we know in the denominations and ask them to be priests where they are so that they may help the people around them to change.
We will beg God with many tears for the denominations to change. Jesus wept; He shed tears over Jerusalem. He said, “I would have gathered you like a hen gathers her chicks.” But Jerusalem didn’t want it and rejected Him—they killed Him. If we are faithful priests, they may kill us. Or perhaps the whole city will change. But we must be faithful priests. We must ask everyone we know to be faithful priests where they are. If they try to help the people that they know, they will become strong, and they might get thrown out. But then they can be with other believers that have a common heart, having first tried with the people around them. That’s what a priest does. We must love those in the denominations. That’s what Jesus does. But we don’t accept compromise. We must live for Truth and ask everyone we know in the denominations to live for Truth too. If everyone does that, then Jesus will build his Church.
This is the Good News of Jesus. We must live this way for other people in the community. No compromise, no lukewarmness…but we must love them and try to help them. There must not be separation because of names and denominations. The separation should only come as a result of a person not wanting to obey Jesus. We don’t know that until we try. The denomination name does not mean the person in the denomination is a bad person and does not want to obey Jesus. We don’t know that until we try. This is how we must live with the denominations. We must lay down our life for them and do everything we can to give them the Bread of Life and ask them to do the same thing with the people they know. Then we watch and see what Jesus does with that. Jesus said that if we do our part, He will build his Church and the walls of hell cannot withstand the attack. We are attacking satan’s city, scaling the walls and knocking down the doors. We are loving people and bringing them from darkness to Light. We are not separating over names, but loving people—even to the death. We do the work of a priest, and the Lord will build His Church.