The Sacred in the Secular
1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people…

The New Testament knows no such thing as different degrees of consecration to God's service for different men. A man is no more consecrated to the work of God when he is made a clergyman than he was before as a layman. He is simply consecrated to a special department of that work; to the department, namely, of the Word and Sacraments. But, in fact, the ministry of Christ takes in much more than this. The word "ministry" means simply service; and in this sense all Christian people belong to the Christian ministry. We are all ordained to it in Holy Baptism. In which department of this one great ministry a man is to work — whether in the department of the Word and Sacraments or in what may be called the department of temporal supplies — this is a question which the man must settle for himself; but whether or not he shall serve in the ministry of Christ at all, this is not an open question for anyone. It has been settled. One man may go to the altar, and another to the counting room; but the man who goes to the counting room has no better right to be selfish than the man who goes to the altar. Many people in entering the Church think not to do anything in particular, but to keep out of danger; not to battle for the truth, but simply to "flee from the wrath to come." In the most solemn manner they pledge themselves wholly to God's service, and yet seem to have no idea of serving anyone but themselves in what they call their secular sphere; that is, in by far the greater part of their inner and outer life. What is worse than all, the Church does not seem shocked at the inconsistency. If pleasure have been a man's aim in the world, pleasure may continue to be his aim in the Church; only in the Church his pleasures must be innocent. They may be selfish, but they must be innocent. If the man's aim in the world was to amass wealth just for selfish uses, he may pursue that aim quite as safely in the Church, and perhaps a trifle more successfully; only his methods must be honest. If he has no ambition in this direction; if he says, "I have enough to supply my wants, I have no desire for further gains, I will retire from work and live on what I have"; the selfish indifference is likely enough to be taken as a mark of Christian moderation. "I have enough." No matter for others. No matter that want, myriad voiced, is crying from altar and from hearthstone. Suppose that a clergyman should talk in this way: "I am now fifty years old; I have for many years been in receipt of a large salary; I have, by God's blessing, been able to lay up enough of it to maintain me the remainder of my days; I will stop preaching." The inconsistency in that case would shock people. Why not the same inconsistency in the case of a layman? Simply because of the unscriptural distinction between religious and secular in a Christian's life and work. A gospel which does nothing more than simply provide Christian manners for selfish lives will never do. Only the gospel which directs all human motives to the one supreme end, of serving God; which proclaims the priesthood of all believers, and the sacredness of all spheres of duty and of life; only this is the true gospel of the kingdom, and only this can win the world.

(J. S. Shipman, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

WEB: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God's own possession, that you may proclaim the excellence of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

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