I have worked in more places than I immediately recollect. Some workplaces were run well, most were characterized by inattention to working conditions and expected employees to be more like extensions of their machines than people. The same could be said for churches. Some are run well and others leave much to be desired. Without trying to be simplistic, today’s Old Testament lesson gives the clue to what makes the difference: a clear sense of purpose. God made it clear that Israel was given the mandate to “be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
Although there was always a remnant of Israelites who held to this original purpose, we know the end of the story. Israel largely failed to fulfill their God-given reason for existence and did not follow through with their missionary purpose. They ended up in exile because of their stubbornness and lack of holiness.
When we as Christians lose sight of why we exist, we degenerate into a bunch of finicky cats who want ever richer food and a lusher bed to sleep in. We exist not to be catered to, but to be people who do the priestly work of interceding for others so that the nations might come to know the God of all the earth. We exist to walk in holiness, set apart to be the conduit between heaven and earth so that others might come to embrace Jesus. It was Christ who did what the Israelites did not do, and secured salvation for all who believe.
Where there is complaining and backbiting there is a lack of purpose. Where there is only talk of how others can meet my needs there is a lost mandate to be a priest bringing others to God. The gracious and priestly work of intercession on behalf of those who need Jesus is the purpose many are lacking. Let us return to this holy vocation.
O God, you are holy. So, I choose to be holy in all I do. I intercede for those around me who either cannot or will not come to you on their own. Draw them to yourself so that they might experience the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Amen.