THE PRIESTHOOD OF THE LAITY

You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his very own possession. This is so                    you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you                                                                        out of darkness into his wonderful light.                                     1 Peter 2:9

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It is shortsighted to assume that some form of ordained ministry and authority is the be-all and end-all of what the church is all about.  While this misunderstanding may be found among many clergy (priest and pastor alike), this great bogus assumption exists more so among the laity as an excuse to dodge their critical role and responsibility in the missionary endeavor of the church. What is needed is a theology of the laity, a call and legitimization in the minds of all followers of Jesus that breaks the chains of this false assumption and a commitment by laity to participate along side clergy in the heavy lifting of mission and ministry.

This idea is not new. It’s been around for at least five hundred years and leads us back to the Apostle Peter. It is what Martin Luther called for when he wrote The Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude: Preached and Explained. He wrote on the idea of “the priesthood of all believers” and said, “that the word priest should become as common a word as Christian.” He held the conviction that both the plowboy and the milkmaid fit the role of priest. Both may embrace a vocation of mission and ministry in faithfulness to love the Lord with all one’s heart, soul, and strength, and love one’s neighbor all without the assumed authority of and deference to hierarchy. This has enormous implications for us today. It is a called to all laity to move out of a passive posture into to an active one alongside the clergy with an obligation and privilege to help carry the load of mission and ministry.

Much of the laity today are nominal Christians, consumers of the Word preached on Sunday, partakers of the entertainment of worship, and otherwise unengaged in the missional calling to make disciples. In short, most laity leave the heavy lifting, or all the lifting, to the pastor and priest. What is needed is an awakening and alertness to the Holy Spirit, spokesperson of the Father and Son. In the context of God’s abundant grace each day, God is calling for our response. For laity to be responsive and faithful to such divine calling it is necessary to be up to the task. All believers are called to press on to Spiritual maturity (formation) submission to the work (infilling) of the Holy Spirit. To do so is to be equipped to contribute to the mobilization of a Great Awakening that God has in mind for all the world.

The clergy cannot do it by themselves we need a theology of the laity that is not an intellectual accent to some articulated proposition. Rather it is a true partnership in practice with brothers and sisters in Christ who are ordained and in covenant with God, faithfully maintained at whatever cost and whatever sacrifice.

                    “And now God is building you, as living stones, into his spiritual temple.                                What is more, you are God’s holy priests, who offer the spiritual sacrifices                                                       that please him because of Jesus Christ.”                                                  1 Peter 2:5

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