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 ESV
Peter’s first epistle is filled with hope to a persecuted people. Throughout the letter, the apostle makes references to the condition of the believers’ lives, comparing their lives in this world to the Israelites in the Babylonian exile. He calls them exiles and sojourners, saying that they are of the Dispersion, which is another term for Israel’s exile. It is very clear that these Christians no longer belong to the culture around them. They feel as though they are strangers and foreigners, even though they are living in the cities of their youth.
Peter explains why in this verse. Christians are supposed to feel strange within the culture around them because we are foreigners. As followers of Christ, we are a new people group, a nation within the nations. Our primary identity is no longer our homeland nor our ethnicity; it is our being in Christ. Thus, every follower of Christ is closer in nature to the followers around the world than to the unbelieving neighbor across the street because we all now have the same spiritual ethnicity, nationality, and purpose. With Christ, comes a new identity that transcends all other identifiers.
But notice that the verse does not stop there. We receive our new identity in Christ that we may proclaim His excellencies. This means that we are made Christians in order to proclaim His greatness. Of course, the glories of God are manifest to us in the face of Christ, the image of the invisible God; thus, the proclamation of Christ is fundamentally tied to our identity as Christians.
But this is not a Petrine concept alone. No, Jesus displays the same idea in the giving of the Great Commission. By delivering the call the make disciples, Jesus is essentially reworking the original command for Adam to be fruitful and multiply. Thus, just as Adam’s original identity as a man was bound to the purpose that God gave him, so Christians are now innately connected to making disciples, to our own form of multiplication.
And it all comes down to the final words of the verse. We proclaim Christ because He called us out of darkness into marvelous light. Speaking of Christ should not be a chore because we are giving the good news to those who are still in darkness. If you have been brought by Christ out of darkness, you are then a new person with a new identity, but with that identity comes the need to proclaim Christ. May we never cease proclaim His excellencies throughout the duration of our exile.