Once upon a time....in a Galaxy far far away....Satan concocted this glorious scheme....if he couldn't stop people from meeting the Lord, what he could do is separate God's people into the spiritual haves and have nots, just as he did in the physical....the haves and have nots, the rich and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, the suits and the blue collars......(hopefully you can begin to see where this is going).
Satan used some wonderfull religious words for it. He called the haves the clergy (maybe I should have typed Clergy because of the holiness connected with such a wondrous thing) and then the others, the have nots, would become known as the laity (small "L"), the ordinary people, the uneducated ones, the Latin for which (Latin was big back then when all this started) would translate uneducated as the idios. Now we do not have to be terribly educated to figure out what English word came forth from that one. How does it make us folks who didn't get a doctorate in seminary feel when referred to as an idiot? :)
Even when Martin Luther threw his monkey wrench into the system, he never got rid of the clergy/laity thing. Neither did most of those who came after him. And do you know why?
Because we all loved it! Clergy loved it and laity loved it. Let me talk just about myself here. I loved the recognition, the title, the adulation, the power, the control, telling everyone else how they should live, and being paid so I could come "out from among" all those terrible sinful infidels....ahhh....thank God I am not a sinner such as those. Actually, what it did was.....STOP... it's best we not go there..... suffice to say, I repented of all of that, asked God to forgive me, and, wherever possible, asked those I was responsible for to forgive me as well.
On the other side of that, unfortunately, the laity loved it as well. I'll pay you to be spiritual for me, to visit the sick instead of me, to call sinners to repentance instead of me, to counsel instead of me, to show up every Sunday instead of me, to prepare for the meeting instead of me, to evangelize instead of me......do I need to go on....I could you know. All we needed to do was show up once in a while on Sunday, try to stay awake during the sermon and maybe complain when the sermon was too long, or we didn't like what he said or we felt they sang too many songs.
We have taken the word Ministry..... capitalized it, sanctified it and made it religious, turned it into an office usually using the word Pastor.....although we are doing more and more all the time to do the same thing with evangelist, apostle, prophet and teacher..... these are all just gifts He has given His church to train (equip) the rest of us for ministry (small "M"). Actually it is a very simple word meaning service but that is a tough one to build all the religious jargon and rationalization around.
God gave gifts to his church, not offices, not job descriptions, not titles nor paychecks nor privileged holy class....just gifts....which he gave to train those of us not having that gift, just how to serve that way where God has placed us (in the middle of this sinful world we live in) so we can begin to love and care for all the wounded, hurting people there are out there.
Hope this starts you thinking. I'll pick up on this next time.