Many ministries celebrate laity and salute their work in the church and sometimes, in the community at large.
But who exactly is the laity? Is it a formal group? Is it everybody? How do you join? How do you get out? Many questions surround the laity, however, the answer is quite simple.
The laity is every believer in the congregation. It comes from the word, ‘Laos,’ which means people. All the people in the church are the laity. If you’re not the pastor or a minister, then you are laity.
God equips the laity to help the pastor to spread His word and share the news that ‘Jesus Saves!’ And take note of the phrase, ‘help the pastor.’ Laity does not take over or tell the pastor how to do what he or she has been called to do, but the laity freely lends their gifts to build the kingdom. Laity is who mainly comprised the scene in Acts 1:4-8.
Now, these were truly times that tried men’s soul, similar to today. As earlier verses tell us, Christ was crucified, buried and resurrected, but not yet ascended. So, the apostles and followers were in Jerusalem waiting for their next move.
Unlike today in America, where it’s acceptable to be a Christian, it was quite dangerous for this group, comprised of lots of different ethnicities, according to Acts 2:8-11. In fact, it was decidedly unpopular to be ‘in the way’ or a follower of Jesus. So, it was wise for them to stick together.
Christ had risen, appeared to many, and told them all to wait, just wait. No doubt, there were people in the group saying, “Wait? What for? Let’s do this thing now!”
Christ wasn’t having them wait for no reason. Verses 4-5 instruct, ‘wait for the Promise of the Father and you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ Waiting paid off for these early Christians, and it will pay off for laity today.
Don’t be so quick to push your idea only, shout down constructive criticism, or discount the baby Christian’s suggestion. Wait, consider, consult the pastor, look at the big picture and above all, check your motives.
As laity dedicated to the cause of Christ, let us examine our motives; pray for pureness of heart, so that in all we do, God gets the glory.
Also, beware of distractions and distractors, those ‘what if’ or ‘when will it happen’ people. Stay focused on the task at hand, remembering that God has called laity to be one body with members working together in unity.
God knows the heart and discerns impure motives. In verse 7, He stops the distracting talk by reminding the people that God has the power to do whatever He wants when He is ready. The main point is to wait until they receive the Holy Spirit that will empower them to spread the gospel all throughout the world. That was the mission then for believers and it is still the goal today, spread the Gospel.
So, now what? How does the laity prepare for the vineyard, join the battlefield, march the streets of L.A., or get to work in the church? One place to find guidance is in Colossians 2:6-10.
In verses 6-7, believers are encouraged to ‘be steadfast.’ If you have accepted Christ, act like it. Conduct yourself or walk like a child of God all the time, whether you are at church, the party or the beach.
In addition, believers should be firm, unwavering, and filled with encouragement because of our faith and personal experience as a child of God, especially when challenges arise or rabble-rousers get creative. Don’t break down and act like they do.
No one is coming to Christ based on a ‘wishy-washy,’ ‘can’t make a decision,’ ‘unsure about Christ’ individual. So, let’s ‘be steadfast’ as laity in the church.
Second, let us ‘be watchful’ as cited in verse 8. Stay prayed up; read your Bible, fellowship with the saints because Satan is busy. Revelation 12:10 calls him the accuser of the brethren who accuses us before God, day and night. Satan doesn’t take vacations or work 9 to 5, he‘s on the job 24-7.
Finally, believers and laity must be ‘be confident’ as outlined in verses 9-10. Be secure in your salvation, be positive about the Trinity, certain about the power of God, and fully persuaded that He will keep all of His promises.
When the going gets tough and there are more bills than money and the neighbor’s music is entirely too loud, don’t give up or get them told.
Step back, take a breath, fall on your knees, and pray to God the Father for a double portion of His Spirit to fall fresh on you and bring to your remembrance that you already have the victory because God’s got your back and He’s running this show called ‘my life.’
Laity have a place in God’s plan for kingdom building. To obtain it, all we have to do is to (1) be steadfast, (2) be watchful and (3) be confident.