Once Many, Now One

Matthew McConaughey starred as coach Jack Lengyel in the true and inspiring story of a major college football program re-birth, a rising, of sorts, from the wreckage of a 1970 plane crash that had claimed the lives of the university’s entire team and coaching staff. Hired to build a team anew, Lengyel went to work to create something from nothing, one player and one coach at a time. They assembled from among the poor and the well-off, from the very fast to the very strong, from model lives to troubled youths, from African descent, European descent and more. What began as no individuals became many, and from many individuals emerged a team, together now proclaiming their identity of one—“We Are Marshall.”

In its way, the movie illustrates the body of Christ, a singular people made up of many persons. “Once you were not a people,” writes Peter, “but now you are the people of God.” In His mercy, we have come from backgrounds unimaginably diverse—from rich and poor, from East and West, North and South, from other religions or no religion, from ethnicities, tribes and nations around the globe. What have we become? Once many, we are one—“a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.”

On the surface, such lofty titles can sound at least a little elitist, institutional and antiquated. Candidly, it’s easier for us to relate to football! Life is not a weekend pastime, however; it is toughed out every moment of every day and with real consequences. People crave goodness in an unjust world, and love amid cruelty, so God sends His chosen people, to reflect His character, where hope resides. People swim in confusion over who God is and how to find him; His holy nation points clearly and joyfully to Him who is the way, the truth and the life. People not only need prayer, they want prayer; what more can this humble priesthood do than to intercede for them and with them. And who but a people belonging to God is called to sacrifice our comfort for others’ care, and to exchange self-soothing convenience for outreaching compassion. It is still true: we thrive as one. We Are Priesthood.

Father, though I do not deserve it, you have saved me in Christ and joined me to His body. Lead me into the priestly duties you have for me — to speak hope and truth, to serve in your name, to give of myself as you give of yourself. I pray in the name of Him who died to make us holy. Amen.

Christ in me is holiness.

Read today’s Scripture in 1 Peter 2:9, 10.

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