Certain accepted prejudices have made a comfortable presence in modern life. Our enlightened culture has come a long way thanks to the dirt pioneers have had to swallow. Our country prides itself in electing a man of African lineage, with a Muslim-sounding name, no less. Yet, in our so-called evolution, distinctions exist both in the culture at large, and among microcosms of society. One in particular sticks in my generously proportioned craw, and that is the distinction between clergy and so-called laity.
These terms are religious in nature. They have their roots in the Christian tradition. The origin has nothing to do with the standard by which Christians judge truth--nowhere in the Bible do these terms appear. Not in Greek, Hebrew, Modern English, or any subsequent translation, even among the click languages of the sub-Sahara. Clergy is a man-made title for the elite, plain and simple. The Cleric evolved from clerk, or one who had the advantage over the commoner with the ability to read. The term Laity is likewise a dismissive gesture at those assigned a following or supportive role for the clergy, very much like serfs and peasants supported fiefdoms for lords, earls and kings.
Biblical power structure looks more like the knights of the round table, where five offices are mutually respected and all contribute. The book of Romans and the two books of Corinthians spell out these as Pastors, Teachers, Prophets, Evangelists and Apostles. Modern interpretation of the office of Pastor has exaggerated its power and role to usurp the other four into relative nonexistence, or else annexed them into one goggle-eyed monster of all-consuming church authority. Literally, pastor means 'to lead to pasture', or to where the food is. The modern church chief executive officer not only leads to the buffet, but provides all five courses single-handedly.
Often, the common believer's contribution is given no more importance in the body than manning the nursery, or wearing a red jacket and greeting new people as they come through the door, or sticking one's arm up a puppet's backside for the entertainment of children. None of these assignments have changed the world, but they have changed the average believer into a hamster-like being, spinning his wheel with feverish devotion and getting nowhere. This systematic neutering of God's people has led to disenfranchisement, irrelevance and the death of vitality in many churches which once thrived with the power of God. No wonder the modern church sees fewer miracles than in the book of Acts. The masses have been reduced to spectatorship for the central dictator.
Jesus may have predicted his own displacement as the central authority of his church when he said, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." (Luke 9:58) How can Jesus squeeze a word in edgewise while the talking heads hold the microphone? In Revelation 3:20, we see Jesus locked outside his own church in Laodicea, saying, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.' Have we locked Jesus outside His church by role distinctions that He never intended? His word expresses a desire to see 'every joint supply,' not just the select few who hold the right degree.
Did Jesus hand out his business card to the Pharisees and boast of his SOG degree? Did he earn his title of Son Of God by a man-made accolade? Obviously not. And neither should his children. Romans 8 speaks of adoption by the Spirit for believers in verses 15-17: ". . . you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father! The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him." When the church puts away class distinctions like the clergy/laity abomination, then God's power will once again return to his people, and the world will see a different image of our great God.