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Yeshua Explored

Who are the laity?

todayApril 4, 2016 115

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From the middle of the 1st Century onwards, once the generation of Jewish apostles and disciples had died out, the reins of the Church were grabbed by the Gentile Church fathers, most of whom were well versed in pagan Greek philosophy, notably that of Plato. The major effect of this was to introduce the mistaken, non-Biblical idea that there is a separation between the physical and the spiritual. This led to artificial divisions in the Church and Christian thinking, between the body and the soul, the natural and the supernatural, the holy and the profane.

On the practical level it even divided the Body of Christ into two classifications, the clergy (the spiritual “professional” Christians) and the laity (the rest of us). This idea has been re-inforced ever since, giving the mistaken belief that only a small group of us (the clergy) are called into full-time Christian service. The rest of us (the laity) are the ones who are “served” and pay for this “privilege”, usually financially.

There are two outcomes to this, both affecting us today, if we only realised it. During the Dark Ages, the “Christian” world had sunk to such a low that the common man hadn’t a clue what he really needed to do to be saved. The Bible was only available in Latin, the language of the clergy, which didn’t really matter as the general public was illiterate. Lives were so brutally short that the clergy taught folk that only by performing rituals in Church, could they get to heaven and that their lives on earth were hardly worth living, so at least they had something to look forwards to. A historian wrote the following:

The new kind of Christians, after the fall (of Rome), had little interest in their bodies as such. They cared about the health of their souls. They had no interest in consumption. They could lose their reputation rather than gain it for possessing wealth in a society where poverty was next to godliness. Roman wealth was replaced by Christian poverty. (A History of Knowledge, Charles Van Doren p. 96, Ballantine Books 1992)

There is every possibility that this thinking is still with us, even if in the milder form of not being interested in fulfilling their potential on earth because surely God has something better waiting for us in Heaven.

The other outcome is a more obvious one. We still have clergy and laity. The clergy these days also come in plain-clothed varieties, in pastors, worship leaders, writers, prophets, apostles and Christian leaders. These are our full-time Christian workers, earning their livelihood through exercising their God-given gifts. The tendency is for the laity to hand over all spiritual tasks to these “professional Christians”, to leave the rest of us to live our secular lives for ourselves. You can see here the subtle influence of Plato’s philosophy still with us – the separation of our lives into the spiritual and the secular. A symptom of this is the situation when a tramp or needy person wanders into the church – hold on, I’ll just go and fetch the vicar, he’ll pray for you / help you out financially / feed you / clothe you …

And there lies the problem and an “acceptable” refuge for a Christian shirker. We still think we’re the laity!

We’re not.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father–to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. (Revelation 1:5-6)

We are all priests to serve God, we don’t just anoint the special ones to intercede for us, as they did in Old Testament times.

But we still think we’re the laity. We are still used to elevating others to “minister” to us. We lay our hands on our TV sets because the “prophet” has told us we can catch the anointing that way. We allow our favourite trusted teachers to feed our spirits without examining their words against the plumbline of the Bible, seemingly bypassing our God-given critical faculties. We bind ourselves to TV ministries, attracted by the promised blessings and “financial rewards” or just because they look honest and speak well.

We are still dependent on professional Christians. We need to break free from the pews, take charge of our own Christian development and behave like the Bereans:

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)

For the previous article in this series, click here.

For the next article in this series, click here.

To find out about MY NEW BOOK, “Hope”, click here.

You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.

Why are we still dependent on ‘professional Christians?

Written by: Miriam Emenike

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todayApril 4, 2016

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