"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." 1 Peter 2:9–10
What does it mean for you to be treasured by God? Think about it for a second—what does it mean for you to be treasured by God? He created the mountains and the rivers. He made the oceans and the seas. He created the galaxies. But nowhere in the Bible does it say that those are his treasured possessions. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that he values and treasures the animals. But it says many times that he values and treasures you. How much does he treasure you? He treasures you enough to put on flesh and blood. He treasures you enough to live a human life. He treasures you enough to tie himself to humanity forever. And he treasures you enough to die in your place.
So, here's a thought—
If you are absolutely convinced that you are God's treasured possession, how much would it change your life? Think about your insecurities and fears. Think about that financial problem. Think about that worry with your kids. Think about those issues with college coming up. Think about all the struggles and fears that you have in your life. If you were convinced that you were God's treasured possession, how different would your life look? How different would your worries look?
There's an Old Testament story about the prophet Hosea. It's one of the most compelling, challenging stories in the Bible. The prophet Hosea is led by the Lord to marry a woman named Gomer. They fall in love; life is good. Everything's great until Gomer is unfaithful.
Gomer is unfaithful to Hosea. She cheats on him and gets pregnant. She has a child with another man and then does it again. And Hosea doesn't leave his wife. They stay together, and it's messy and complicated; Hosea is raising two kids that are not his own. He names the first child Lo-Ammi, meaning, "You are not of my people" because the child was not his. And the second he names Lo-Ruhamah, meaning, "You have not received mercy from me."
Things actually get worse between Gomer and Hosea. Gomer is unfaithful again and eventually leaves the family. You can imagine Hosea, right? His unfaithful wife leaves, and he's left with the kids. It's a disaster. She becomes so tangled in the mess of the world that she sells herself as a slave. And it's in this context that God speaks to the prophet, saying, "Hosea, I want you to go find Gomer and purchase her so that she can be free. Then I want you to bring her home."
Just imagine with me what Hosea is feeling. If your spouse did this to you, if your circumstances led you to this moment, you're thinking, Wait a minute, You want me to find her? You want me to pay for her to be free? I don't even know if she wants to come home. And after all the ways she's hurt me, I don't want her home. Are you kidding? And yet, Hosea obeys. He goes, finds her, purchases her freedom, and brings her home. It's a powerful story.
And at first glance, it seems like it has absolutely nothing to do with first Peter and his description of the church. I never connected Hosea and Peter until one day, I came across verse ten in chapter two: "We're 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 and into his marvelous light."
Verse ten, "Once you are not a people, but now you are God's people. Once you have not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." Do you see what Peter did? He never mentions Hosea. He never mentions Gomer. And yet, he just used Gomer's children's names to describe you and me. You have not received mercy. You are not a people. Is that a coincidence? Absolutely not. God wants you to see that there's a connection because you (just like Gomer) have been unfaithful to God. And in that unfaithfulness, you thought you could do it your way.
You got tangled up in your pride, fear, lust, and shame—and you became enslaved. But God, just like Hosea, did the unthinkable—he came looking for you. He found you. He purchased your freedom, and he took you home. And now, because of his love, your name has been changed. Once you were nobody, now you are somebody. Once you hadn't received mercy, now his mercy overflows to you.
Only his mercy can satisfy the deep insecurity that lives inside us. When it gets in us, it transforms the way every other relationship works. When you know that you are loved and approved by God, forgiven, adopted, and received by God, an alternate society begins to form of a people changed by love to such a degree can learn to love others just for love's sake.
Peter wants us to know that God marks us as his treasured possession. We can experience Christ's radical grace through repentance and faith. It becomes the most intense foundational event of our lives. Because of this common experience of rescue, we now share an identity marker, even more indelible than the ties that bind us to our family, our race, or our culture—we are now a chosen race, a holy nation. I've become a new person, a new identity.
This thing called church was never intended to be just another human institution. It was designed to be a supernatural community where the glory of God falls. We don't just gather for a chunk of time on a Sunday, but we integrate our lives with each other. We are doing life together; we learn how to be priests and learn how to love just for love's sake, proclaiming the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light.
Want to hear more about this? Check out our recent sermon, "See Who We Are" on YouTube.