In chapter 2 verses 9 and 10, Peter clearly outlines the answers to these questions...
'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 the light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (ESV)
WHO ARE WE?
- A Chosen Race: We are special and we believe. Peter makes it clear that 'believers' are this 'chosen race'. The extended metaphor from the word 'race' portrays this beautifully: race refers to a deeper connection, you cannot join a race but have to be from it. This also indicates that God chose us first, however, we have to accept Him through salvation to recognize our position in this 'race'. This also extends to show us that we are elect exiles and that God has elected us; His choice crushes our pride, it is certain because He is compassionate, loving and faithful. Finally, it also reminds us that we are chosen by the virtue of Him who chose us.
- Royal Priesthood: This indicates a privilege: the priests in early Israel were the messengers between the Israelites and God, it seemed that they had a closer connection. We have a close relationship with God and can connect with Him. It also symbolizes a royal house filled with priests, with Christ and promises us of a future reigning.
- Holy Nation: Reminder that His holiness has been imputed in us. We are called to be holy and have a connection with God. 'Nation' assures us of citizenship in God's kingdom. The Greek word 'Ethnos' is the root of ethnicity, thus building our identity and spreading a common ground between all believers. However, it also indicates that we not only have 'rights' in a kingdom, but 'responsibilities' too. Peter uses this metaphor to encourage us to serve and love for the body of Christ.
- People for His own possession: This is a truly beautiful thing to remember. It indicates that God treasures us and cares deeply for our well-being; it evokes a sense of belonging as we're a part of a family, a community. 'Possession' is a word that also signifies that we're brought for a price. Revelation 5:9 clearly lays this out; Jesus paid the price by dieing on the cross for our sins, so that we can be His possessions.
WHY ARE WE HERE?
As Christians its easy to wonder about the purpose and plan God has for us. Peter explains this clearly too.
- Proclaim His wonders: Peter encourages us to proclaim God's excellencies: His character, ability to perform powerful and heroic deeds and His love. He helps us start off be giving us some examples... - He called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. Like my friend Rebecca pointed out, when Jesus was crucified, the whole world went dark due to the weight of all our sins, but when He rose there was a blinding light, to reveal the holiness and purity. He brought us out of our shameful, sinful pasts into a bright, new, holy life with Him. - We're to show gratitude as He showed us mercy and made us His people .i.e. a part of His family
- Proclaim His wonders to those who do not know Him: We are all called to tell of His wondrous acts and deeds to those around us and bring souls to Christ...Not for our benefit BUT for theirs. This is clear from Matthew 28: 18-19, where Jesus gives the Great Commission. We are to do this not only by faith and words but render by actions too, to support what we say. Moreover, we're to make sure our heart, mind, soul and body are in unison when we do this for the glory and honor of His name.
- Constantly strive for Holiness: Peter makes it clear throughout His letter that Holiness is not an event, it is a process and the result.
Isn't it an amazing privilege to be a part of God's own family, it forms a part of our identity and furthermore, how great is it to know that He has a divine purpose for our existence. Like Jeremiah says, 'He has a plan to prosper us and not to harm us' Therefore, let us all embrace the fact that we all are God's children and we're here to glorify Him and live for Him!