Who Are We? God’s Own People 1st Peter 2:9-10 (Wednesday Night Reflection)

We are nearing the end of our reflection on “Who Are We,” as we use 1st Peter 2:9-10 to remind us of who we are: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous 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.” Next week, as we will conclude the series, we will replace the “Who” with a “Why,” however today we come to the last of Peter’s statements of who we are. We began by discovering that we are a chosen race, not due to skin color, the language we speak, or any other aspect of ethnicity, but simply because we have been chosen by God, meaning that God loves us, sees value in us, and has a purpose for us. We learned that we are a royal priesthood in the line of the High Priest of High Priests, Christ Himself, that we might mediate God’s forgiveness and blessings, often through sacrifice, to those who find themselves distanced from God. Last week we were reminded that we are a holy nation—that we are called to be holy as God is holy, that we are to rid our lives of those things that are not Christ-like, that we might grow in perfection, learning to love God and neighbor more perfectly, because God has set us aside to be different from the world. Today we learn that we are “God’s Own People.”
It is probably one of my favorite parts of the movie Finding Nemo. It is the scene where in which the seagulls crying out “mine, mine, mine, mine, mine” as they fight over Marlin and Dory. Nigel the pelican rescues them and flees with the seagulls in a massive pursuit.
How often have we felt like Dory and Marlin? No, I’m not asking if you have ever felt like a fish, though maybe you have. I’m talking about how often have we felt like we had a flock of seagulls fighting over us, pecking at us, each one trying to claim us as belonging to them?
Seagull #1 – our jobs/careers. Some of us have employers that think we belong to them. Others of us may have careers seem to own us. These employers or careers try to claim us suggesting that they are the number one thing in our lives. They expect everything else to be laid aside for the sake of our paycheck or to further our career.
Seagull #2 – our family. Maybe it is a parent or grandparent. Maybe it is a child or grandchild. Maybe it is a brother or sister, aunt or uncle, in-law, or some 2nd, three-times removed, cousin. Regardless of which relative it is, our family wants to, actually expects us to, place family as the number one thing in our lives—that everything else should fall by the wayside if they come calling.
Seagull #3 – membership organizations. Maybe it is the PTA. Maybe it is the Civitans. Maybe it is baseball team or racquetball club, or some other sports affiliated group. That group that we voluntarily became part of, with good intentions of participating and seeing the good that they do, may now decide they want all of our time and want to claim us as their own.
Seagull #4 – illness/disease/injury. Illness and disease, whether it is cancer, diabetes, schizophrenia, bi-polar, chronic pain, broken hips, amputated arms, or whatever other physical or mental impairment we may develop tries to claim us as their own. They want our entire lives to revolve around battling them, trying to overcome them. They want to limit what we can or can’t do based on those battles. They try to convince us that we cannot live a full life because of them.
Seagull #5 – debt. Who do we owe money to? Bills stack up. Creditors and collection agencies filling our mailbox and our voicemail. Maybe it was because we have chosen to spend more that we make. Maybe it was due to a medical or some other emergency. Regardless, whether it be dinnertime or Christmas morning they call remind us our money is their money. We begin to feel like they own us because we owe them.
Seagull #6 – addictions. Cocaine. Marijuana. Tobacco. Alcohol. Prescription drugs. Overeating. Shopping. Social media. Work. Each one of us will try to own us if we but give into the pressure that we cannot be happy without them—that we need them—that nothing else matters…
Seagull #7 – death. It looms there before us. We are reminded when we see the cemeteries. We are reminded when someone we love or just know dies. We hear its claim on our lives when the doctor offers a terminal prognosis. We feel its tap on our shoulders with the aches and pains our bodies endure. We see a tragic accident or a natural disaster and we know it is there trying to grab us.
Indefinitely more seagulls cry out for our lives, “mine, mine, mine, mine, mine.” You know what they are. You have heard them trying to claim you.
However, Peter reminds us that none of those seagulls can claim us. He reminds us that while God hasn’t opened up a beak with a pouch for us to jump into or scooped water into that beak to keep us alive, that God has claimed us as his own. We are God’s own people, or as another translation read, a people of God’s own possession. Rather than a pouched beak, God offers us the cross to voluntarily come to, and rather than the waters of the sea to sustain us, He claims us as His own through the waters of our Baptism.
God has claimed us and we are His. That means that we need not fear death or addictions or debt or illness and injury, for they do not own us, and cannot and will not have the final word in our lives—they cannot destroy us for God has claimed us and gives us life, eternal life with Him. That means that we do not and should not give our allegiance to membership organizations, jobs or careers, or even our own families—they are not bad, it is not wrong to be part of them, but they cannot control us, our ultimate allegiance should be to God and God alone, for as children of God, we belong to Him and Him alone—for when our jobs and careers, our clubs and organizations, and even our own families fail and disappoint us, there is only One who will always be there—who has promised to never leave and desert us—and that is the God who has claimed us as His own—who will rescue us from all the seagulls, sustain us as they chase us, and give us true, complete, and eternal life with Him.
Who are we? In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we are God’s Own People! Amen.