Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Priesthood of All Believers

I am reading a book called, “Pagan Christianity,” by George Barna. The book has rocked my world. Some of the book challenges me, some I disagree with, some I label irrelevant, and some makes me sit and ponder. I do know this….I have this unsettling, gnawing at my soul about how church is done now. This book confirmed those feelings, but also showed me that there are others (and not just on the margins of life, but in the “mainstream”) who are battling the same types of feelings. It’s comforting to know that many are dissatisfied.

One of the biggest areas that I feel needs to be addressed inside and outside of the church is that of IDENTITY. Identity plays a huge role in Scripture and the full meaning of it will never be realized this side of heaven, but the implications of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in our lives are immeasurable. Yet, most people are not taught, not enlightened, not engaged, in what it truly means to be a child of God, born of the Spirit, a new creation. Barna taps on this issue in regards to how we do church….

‘The term ‘laity’ is one of the worst in the vocabulary of religion and ought to be banished from Christian conversation.” –Karl Barth

One of the most illuminating, life-giving realizations I came to know when I decided to follow Jesus was the idea of the “priesthood of all Believers”. I understood this to mean that because we now have God dwelling within our hearts (the Holy Spirit), that we were now a “new creation” set apart for God to do His work. This has not been happening in what we call church today. Most Evangelical churches have a pastor (a trained person, usually a man) who stands above everyone on a platform, before up to thousands of people, telling them about the Word of God, God Himself, etc. The audience sits passively and listens, never administering gifts as each has. This type of “church” practice only enhances laziness, apathy, and ineptness. We come to church and are told when to sit, when to stand, when and how to sing (led by a “professional” music director), and then are taught (by a pastor – a professional). And NEVER does anyone interject during a sermon to offer further insight, further relevance, or personal experience/wisdom.

How can something be the “church” when we can come into it and sit passively for up to 2 hours or so and go back home without expressing ourselves? We have been deceived by Satan into these ideas of laity and clergy. The clergy basically monopolizes the church service. It simply isn’t Biblical.

One time I was talking about spiritual things with some people and the conversation went in such a way that some spiritual wisdom was needed. Someone then said to me, “You are the one who went to Seminary, you should answer….”

What if we all truly believed in our hearts that because of what Jesus did, and because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, that we had something more to offer than just showing up at church? What if the church was meant to be all inclusive, each administering gifts as they have been given? What if the church truly integrated all people? What kind of church would we have? This is what I ask, what I seek.