1 Peter 2:9: Proclaim Him

Posted by Laura Novey on February 10, 2024

“But you [believers in Jesus] are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Wow.  How’s that for an unambiguous definition of our identity and purpose.  You and I exist to proclaim the excellencies of the God of heaven and earth, the Savior of mankind.  We have been chosen, rescued from the domain of darkness, and set apart by God Himself—even legally adopted as His children (Galatians 4:4-6)—for the express purpose of declaring His supreme magnificence in character and deed to the world. But what does it mean to proclaim His excellencies?  If that’s the very purpose God has assigned to my life, then I need to know what it looks like in practice.  How does the God-ordained reason for my existence converge with the rubber-meets-the-road particulars of daily living?

The Lord showed me something today.  The Greek word for “proclaim” (exaggelló) is made up of two parts.  The base word, aggelló, means to announce or report—essentially to function as a messenger.  But that tiny little prefix ex (or ek) does something big to intensify the base word. It means  “out from and to.” That is, it’s not just an announcement that goes forth, but it is expected to have an outcome. The picture this word produces is of something coming from the innermost substance of its source and proceeding outward in an effectual way to impact the recipient.  It has the connotation of fully proclaiming or pouring out a declaration entirely, not holding back. This is not a sales pitch. It’s not the shouting of religious slogans on a street corner. It’s not sterile academic discourse.  It’s not something rote, halfhearted, or perfunctory.  It’s not what Paul describes as “peddling the Word of God,” but instead it’s communicating “from sincerity” — from something deep within that has been touched by God (2 Corinthians 2:17). Exaggelló indicates that whatever comes forth from us as a declaration of Yahweh’s excellence is to be sourced in something very personal…something experientially embedded in the warp-and-weft of our lives as God’s power and providence intersect our daily grind.  My own fleshly efforts cannot achieve this. It is profoundly and wholly dependent upon something wrought by the Spirit of God within me, which can then flow out from my innermost being, carried along in the powerful current of His rivers of living water (2 Corinthians 3:4-6, John 7:37-39, 2 Corinthians 4:7).

So, what does this look like in practice?  How do I proclaim His excellencies?

For starters, I need to recognize that God is intimately involved in my life’s story.  He does awesome works in the everyday-ness of my life…in the valleys and the victories and everything in between. He is the “author” and “perfecter” of my faith and of the story that springs from that faith (Hebrews 12:2, Ephesians 2;10). You and I are a part of God’s “cloud of witnesses” as our stories unite with those featured in Hebrews 11 and those of God’s children throughout all the ages which exaggelló His greatness (Hebrews 12:1).  These are the testimonies of those who have “tasted and seen” the goodness of the Shepherd (Psalm 34:8, John 10:11, Psalm 23).  They are the narratives of lives impacted by the living, active, powerful Word of God (Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17).  They are the declarations of hearts and souls moved and shaped by His grace and mercy and truth.  It is these stories of faith which provide encouragement “so that [we] will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3, 10:25). It is these confirmations and substantiations of His excellencies that inspire generation-after-generation to turn their eyes to Jesus (Psalm 103, Psalm 145).

The Lord’s fingerprints are all over our daily lives. Are we drawing close to Him and training our eyes to see Him and know Him in the midst of our circumstances?(Proverbs 3:5-6, Psalm 5:3).  What if God’s children would habitually say with one accord in their own spheres of influence, “Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer nor His lovingkindness from me…Come and see the works of God, who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men!...I will tell of what He has done for my soul” (Psalm 66).  Let’s not underestimate the power of sharing these stories in which the Lord parts our seas of impossibility, delivers us, prepares the way for us, lifts us up, holds us close, calms our fears, provides from His bounty, breaks iron bars asunder, sets us free, comforts us, supplies refuge under His wing, shines truth in our hearts, carries us by His strength, blesses us, generates hope, lifts our countenance, equips us, protects us, defends us, opens doors, closes doors, walks through fires with us, dries our tears, forgives us, helps us, disciplines us in love, picks us up and dusts us off, stoops down to us, lifts our burdens, heals us, gives us rest, satisfies our souls, makes good on His promises, maybe even performs a jaw-dropping miracle…

But that’s only part of what it means to proclaim His excellencies. Going back to the passage in 1 Peter 2, we read further:  “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers [in this world] to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent…so that…they [those who aren’t God’s children] may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (vs. 11-12). Do we realize that as “the people of God” (vs. 10) we now bear His name (Isaiah 43:7)?  We represent our heavenly Abba.  People are watching the sons and daughters of God.  Our lives speak without words, just as “the heavens are telling of the glory of God” without speech (Psalm 19:1-4). Jesus, being God in human flesh, is the only One who has ever—or will ever—fully and perfectly proclaim the excellencies of God to the world (John 14:7-11, John 1:14, Hebrews 1:1-4).  But as the Holy Spirit gradually transforms us into the image of Jesus, we more strongly bear the “fragrance of Christ” everywhere we go (Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 2:15-16).  That’s potent stuff!  People take notice!  We smell more and more like Jesus as we spend time sitting at His feet, being captivated by His love, being changed by His Word, and marveling at His awesome splendor.  Our lives are not our own, and I thank God for that! (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He has much higher plans and purposes for us than we could ever imagine for ourselves.  He lavishes on us “grace upon grace” so that we may “take hold of that which is life indeed!” (John 1:16, 1 Timothy 6:19).  …and in the process, our very lives display the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul will make its boast in the Lord; the humble will hear it and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!” (Psalm 34:1-3)

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