When was the last time you said, with exasperation, something like this…?

“People! Everything would be so much easier if it wasn’t for ‘people’!”

People frustrate us.
People hurt us.
People behave badly.

Just this week I was talking with a church leader who was ready to quit because of ‘people!’
Here are two truths about people.

Firstly, people are broken and fragile and hurtful at times. Hurt people, hurt people! But let’s also be honest: what we feel about ‘people’ – some people feel like that about us. We all have the capacity to be annoying (or worse!).

Secondly, God loves people – and thankfully that also includes us.

I’ve been really struck recently by God’s design for the Priestly Garments that are outlined in Exodus 28. Verses like these can often feel pretty uninteresting but the symbolism is powerful. Here are three things to note about the Priestly Garments…

  1. The priests would have an array of beautiful, precious stones on their chests and on their shoulders, representing the people. The simple point was this: people are beautiful and precious to God – even in their brokenness, even in their ordinary. Genesis 1-2 reminds us that everybody is made in the image of God and so every life is sacred and worthy of love, honour, and kindness.
  2. The precious stones were worn on the chest piece over the heart: This would be a constant reminder to the priest to carry people with love, compassion and commitment in their hearts.
  3. Precious stones were also worn on the shoulder pads: This represents the priestly responsibility to carry the people on the shoulders. To get involved. Carry their burdens. Help them out. Lift them up. Help them to rise above their challenges.

These responsibilities don’t rest with the priests of the Old Testament past. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, wrote these words in 1 Peter 2:9 (NCV)…

“But you are a chosen people, royal priests, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. You were chosen to tell about the wonderful acts of God, who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Every follower of Jesus has been chosen to be a priest. You are a priest. We don’t need to wear Exodus 28 priestly garments, but the symbolism of those garments applies to Christ-followers.

Jesus, help us to see people as you see them (e.g. precious). Help us to feel what you feel for them (e.g. compassion and love). Help us to do what you would do for them (e.g. forgive, encourage, challenge, inspire).