“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. ” 1 Peter 2:9
In medieval times, everyone regarded the monks and nuns, with their religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience as the truly religious ones. Lay people were simply out of the running. Martin Luther thought this was wrong and the verse from 1 Peter bears reinforces this. Luther maintained that the milkmaid or carpenter was called to serve others in a practical way, and if their work was done to the glory of God, it was as holy as the prayers of the priests. As with so much of the Christian life, it’s all a matter of attitude.
There’s an old story you may have heard that goes something like this:
“A man came across three masons who were working at chipping chunks of granite from large blocks. The first seemed unhappy at his job, chipping away and frequently looking at his watch. When the man asked what it was that he was doing, the first mason responded, rather curtly, “I’m hammering this stupid rock, and I can’t wait ’til 5 when I can go home.”
”A second mason, seemingly more interested in his work, was hammering diligently and when asked what it was that he was doing, answered, “Well, I’m molding this block of rock so that it can be used with others to construct a wall. It’s not bad work, but I’ll sure be glad when it’s done.”
”A third mason was hammering at his block fervently, taking time to stand back and admire his work. He chipped off small pieces until he was satisfied that it was the best he could do. When he was questioned about his work he stopped, gazed skyward and proudly proclaimed, “I…am building a cathedral!”
As lay people, we have all kinds of work. We can choose to see it as service to others, and an opportunity to witness; or we can whine and complain that it’s not very enjoyable. We can work for the glory of God, or we can work for a paycheck that’s never quite enough. In our daily lives we meet all kinds of people. We can see this as an opportunity to serve and witness, or be annoyed because we’re surrounded by those who don’t meet our standards of behavior.
Which mason are you most like? Do you need to adjust your attitude? You’re part of a royal priesthood. Remember what you’re building and who you’re really working for.