Usually when I have the time to leisurely read scripture, I do so with a ballpoint pen and a orange highlighter. There was a point when I realized that actually understanding the scriptures meant learning to actually read the text that lay in front of me. In one of my Bibles I do that by marking it up extensively. Now God reveals truth to us and He’s the one who guides us and teaches us to understand what the scriptures say. But as I began to actually read the text, a whole world of connections began opening my eyes. Words I so often overlooked, such as “therefore,” “so,” “in order that,” “because,” and “for” became the building blocks for seeing the arguments made by the biblical writers.
One example stood out this week for me (mainly because of the speaker’s message from camp on the last night) from 1 Peter: “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,” (1 Peter 2:9). The first portion of this verse reflects what God has done through Jesus Christ. We have been saved from our sin and we have been made a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession. This is glorious truth we should mediate on. These are true because of what Christ has accomplished on the cross. There, our sins are placed on Christ and we are justified, which means we are seen “just-as-if-I’d”-never-sinned or “just-as-if-I’d”-always-obeyed. Christ takes the penalty of our sin so that it is paid in full and there’s no longer debt or penalty against us. That’s what sets us apart. But then comes the next part of the verse which gives us the purpose of why Christ set us apart in the first place. The next word is “that,” or another way to read it is “so that.” It can often give us the purpose or the reason for the idea at hand. So we can ask, why are we set apart, chosen, and made a people for God’s possession? “So that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” The reason we are set apart is so that we would proclaim the excellencies that was due to God from the beginning in the Garden. God sovereignly decided to set us wholly apart from the beginning, so that through every part of us He would receive the glory. Our salvation and being set apart is all for the sake of declaring and proclaiming His glory.
The word “that” gives us the very reason for our existence as a people for God’s own possession. May we strive to live out that purpose of proclaiming His excellencies! And may we strive to not miss those important words! We were never saved for the sake of a private, personal, and compartmentalized faith. But rather that we would be a city set on a hill and a light set on a stand.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” -Matthew 5:14-16