Royal priests are, in short, to work at revealing the glory of God to the world. That is the task of the renewed Temple. But if, as in John’s gospel, the glory of God is revealed when Jesus of Nazareth goes to the cross as the supreme act of love (John 13.1;17.1-5), then we should expect that God’s glory will be reflected out into the world when Jesus’ followers learn the habits of mind, heart, and life that imitate the generous love of Jesus and thus bring new order, beauty, and freedom to the world. It is hugely important that we see these habits precisely as virtues, not simply as “principles” to be “applied” or “values” to be “embraced.” We do not start, as it were, with the Platonic form of justice, beauty, and freedom, so that, possessing that great and awesome knowledge, we might come down to earth with a grand plan for how these noble ideals should trickle down into reality from their Platonic ideal existence. We are given, rather, the promise that the earth shall be full of the knowledge and glory of God, as the waters cover the sea; we are given the resurrection of Jesus to be the start of that project; and we are given the Holy Spirit to enable us to anticipate the former by implementing the latter. To begin on those tasks does not mean we know all and can see exactly what needs doing (as we might imagine if we thought of principles and values). It means that we are committed to taking the difficult first steps toward acquiring the corporate habits that will be justice-generating, beauty-producing, and freedom-enhancing, and to continuing the many-sided debates as to what exactly those phrases will mean. And, once again, every follower of Jesus will have his or her own unique and interestingly different vocation within this complex overall project.
N.T. Wright – After you Believe, p.234