Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything which I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
Who is the default pray-er in your family? When everyone gathers around a table to enjoy a holiday meal, for example, I’m guessing there’s someone who is usually called upon to offer a prayer. As you can imagine, this lot often falls to me. Invariably, after I conclude my prayer, someone will say, “Well, it sure is nice to have a professional around!” While I appreciate the humor, I can’t help but wonder whether or not this comment reveals a problem that has plagued churches since the time of the apostles.
Believe it or not, it’s a persistent threat our own church faces. I’ll call it the myth of the Christian professional. According to this train of thought, Christians can be divided along the lines of a caste system. On the upper tier are those such as pastors, missionaries, and others who’ve been called to vocational ministry. The myth tells us these individuals are not only to exemplify the highest standards of Christian conduct, they’re also to be held exclusively accountable for the church’s growth and ministry.
On the lower tier we find all the other “regular Christians.” Their role, says the myth, is to play the part of a captive audience. They’re called to show up and to give their money, but only to the extent that they’re getting something they value from the professionals. If what the professionals are offering fails to meet their standards—i.e. it feels boring, irrelevant, and generally unexciting—the “regular Christians” can either change “Christian professionals” or find other “Christian professionals” more to their liking.
My prayer is for the Lord to protect us from such pernicious lore. As a symptom of our consumeristic culture, it holds out grim prospects for the churches and church members who fall prey to its allure. To fortify our hearts and minds, we need the Holy Spirit to infuse us with a renewed commitment to respond to our Lord’s Great Commission. Jesus entrusted his marching orders to every single believer. Consequently, we are ALL responsible for its fulfillment.
There is no caste system in the Body of Christ. There are no professional Christians. There are no regular Christians. There are only believers purchased by the blood of Jesus and charged with a God-sized mission to see our Father’s glory exalted throughout the nations. May the Spirit show us how to apply our individual gifts to our unified effort to carry out the Great Commission.