Sunday, November 23, 2008

Eugene Peterson on the priesthood of believers

One of the severely crippling misunderstandings of the Reformation assertion of "the priesthood of all believers" is to assume (or worse, insist) that each of us can function as our own priest - "I don't need a priest, thank you, I can do quite well on my own, me and Jesus." But that is certainly not what Martin Luther intended when he included the priesthood of all believers as a fundamental tenet for reforming the church. He meant that we are all priests, not for ourselves, but for one another: "I need you for my priest, and while we are at it, I'm available to you as your priest."

The priesthood of all believers is not an arrogant individualism that, at least in matters dealing with God, doesn't need anyone. It is a confession of mutuality, a willingness to guide one another in following the way of Jesus, to assist and encourage, to speak and act in Jesus' name. In the community of the baptized, there is no one, absolutely no one, who is not involved in this priestly leading and being led, for even "a little child shall lead them" (Isa. 11:6).
Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way: a conversation on the ways that Jesus is the way, p. 14.