1 Peter 2:9, 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.
Here, we find the beloved doctrine of the priesthood of all believers—that all believers can forgive sins in the stead of Christ, which is the fulfilment of God’s promise to Israel (Exodus 19:6). A good Lutheran would expound on this vital doctrine, but I want to stray from the tradition and focus elsewhere in the text: He who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. What does Peter mean by this?
In Judaism, darkness symbolised sin and light symbolised God’s presence and even eschatological salvation. Peter has brought this understanding into the Christian fold. In fact, today we’d probably define the symbolic contrast betwixt darkness and light in much of the same way as Old Testament Judaism.
I know a lot of darkness. Probably not as well as some, but I know it nonetheless. I know what it’s like to battle with the demon of the mind, depression; I know what it’s like to hate yourself, to believe you’re unlovable, to suffer with addiction, to be a biracial little boy who is hated by both blacks and whites. I relate with darkness. As a lover of classical music, I love dark classical pieces where minor keys make flirtations with musical dissonance. Thus, I could sing along with Simon and Garfunkel, “Hello darkness, my old friend; I’ve come to talk with you again.” Perhaps many can relate to this.
But God has given us citizenship in His holy nation; He has given us heavenly royalty and priesthood. In this way, He has called us His own. “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). God has taken my depression and given me joy; He has taken my self-loathing and given me humility and self-respect; He has taken my unlovability and given me worth and dignity; He has taken my addiction and set me free from my captivity; He has taken my racial rejection and given me citizenship in His holy nation. Most of all, He has taken my sin and has cleansed it in the blood of the Lamb, His only Son.
He does this for all, regardless of one’s status, for “whilst we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (Romans 5:10). We, therefore, are not a nation of darkness, but of light. We are a city set on a hill for all the world to see (Matthew 5:14)—to see that we bear the light of Christ, who illumines the darkest pits of our darkness.