I had a friend tell me many years ago that his goal in life was to be so good at his job, that he could pay people to do the things he didn’t want to do. He meant things like mowing the lawn, painting his house, massaging his wife’s back (I’m kidding. She was lovely). And by all accounts this strategy worked very for him. His business was hugely successful. He made tons of money, owned a bunch of houses and I never once saw the guy mow his lawn.
He was a pro at what he did. And that was enough. He didn’t have to be a pro at other stuff. He left that to others.
And on some level, I think that’s fine (although my liberal arts bias causes me great heartburn when I write that). You can be good at what you and leave other stuff to the experts.
But, I think there is one glaring, important exception: the Church. I think there are some pretty important reasons why we cannot, and should not, leave the Church to the professionals, and by that, I mean the leadership, pastors, ministers, priests, etc.
Honestly, I think this is the whole point of the book of Jude. You know that one. It’s the little one-pager you and I skip on our way to Revelation.
I’d never really looked at it before about a year ago, to be completely honest. Read it. Never studied it. But it is pretty fascinating. And convicting.
Most of us, I am guessing, are pretty content to leave most of what happens at church to the professionals. After all, we didn’t go to seminary. We don’t have all to study and practice guitar. We will come and listen to the experts, watch them perform and then head out to the Cracker Barrel for some professionally-made lunch. In fact, we will work hard at our jobs, so that we can support the good folks who are trained and experienced in the business of church. Who are we to tell them how to do their jobs?
I understand that this is how it works in America, because this is how everything works. Leave it to the pros.
But it can’t be that way, because we are the church. It belongs to all of us. We are in this together and if it goes off the rails, then we go off the rails. If you are a Christian, then you are in the business of church, the business of salvation, the Gospel, etc. whether you like it or not.
Jude puts it this way:
I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. (Jude 3)
The salvation we share. The faith entrusted to the saints. It belongs to us all, but even in Jude’s time he had to remind them that they needed to be engaged and not just spectators: he said, “I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith.” It is your job, your duty, our corporate responsibility to contend and fight for the faith. We can’t just leave it to others.
Unfortunately, the church in our day and age is not structured in such a way as to really allow very many people to be involved, to really be involved I mean. Sure, we can hand out bulletins or make the coffee on Sunday morning. Every true professional has employees. But do we have a say in what is taught or how the money is spent? Do we even care? I think we have to.
I am not sure what it looks like to “contend for the faith” in your context, but I think it is something to consider: how do we take back our church from the professionals and give it to the proletariat, the “common’ to whom it rightfully belongs. Part of the answer is that we have to want it back. We have to be willing to contend.
If we don’t, we may be faced with the situation Jude describes in the following verses.
For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude 4)
Perhaps, these men already have slipped in among us. But that is a topic for another day.