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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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After God’s Own Heart

It’s not that he never messed up. He did. He messed up plenty, just like the rest of us. So, I always wondered why God considered David—this shepherd, musician, king—to be “a man after my own heart.”1 What did He see in David—this adulterer, deceiver, murderer—that made him emerge so favorably from all the other wrongdoers in the world?

It’s not that this king of Israel’s “golden age” was inherently better than anyone else; his self-assessment mirrors our own, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”2 Knowing this sad state of the soul, David staked his life entirely on the absolute love and mercy of God. When his predecessor Saul faltered in faith, he distanced himself from God and wrapped himself in a thick coat of excuses. Not so, David! Quite to the contrary, when David messed up, he turned to the only place he could fine help, God’s own heart—running not away from Him in fear, but to Him in faith; spurning not God’s character with doubt, but honoring His goodness through trust; and not shutting out his God in shame, but opening himself completely before the only One who could remove it.

It’s not that God’s favor rested only upon David. Like him, we have every confidence in God because of His own unwavering faithfulness. To the church, the apostle Paul writes, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.”3

This is the reality in which we who are in Christ now gladly live. Though we sin, Christ lives in us as our holiness,4 in fact, through Christ, God has taken the initiative to draw us near to Himself.5 So, we, too, live confidently before God, forgiven, reconciled to Him, and free from accusation—after God’s own heart, we might say, just like David.

Father, thank You for Your patience and your faithfulness. Help me to accept in faith Your great love for me, and free me to live before You and others in confidence, hope, and joy. May this life bring You glory. In Christ, I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is holiness.

1 Acts 13:2
2 Psalm 51:
3 Colossians 1:21-23
4 1 Corinthians 1:30
5 Ephesians 2:13