Laying the Smack Down

Who’s doing that?

Eugene Peterson.  That’s who.

Here’s a few recently-read words…

The devil does some of his best work when he gets Christians to think of themselves as Christian laypersons.  In the ordinary use of our language, the term layperson virtually always means not-an-expert.  A layperson wouldn’t dream of walking into surgery, picking up a scalpel, and removing a diseased gall bladder from an anesthetized body on the table.  Nor if I were the body would I permit it!

We demand competence, expertise, and know-how in people in matters that really count.  We also require confirming evidence–certifications, diplomas, badges, uniforms, and endorsements.  When we are dealing with anything that matters, we want the best–which means we don’t want a layperson.

He goes on to talk about how some of this is simply a part of life here and now.  Information is simply growing so fast in so many fields… no one can  hope to know everything.  We must trust some realms of life to experts.

However, he goes on…

This is a perfect setup for the Devil.  If I can be convinced that layperson designates who I am and not just what I know or can do, then I am a wide-open market for experts who are ready to tell me how to live my life and, in some cases, even live it for me.  Because God is the core of who I am and what I do and there is far more to God than I can ever learn and deeper mysteries in the workings of God than I can ever figure out, I’m quite willing to employ an expert to take care of these matters for me.

And so I end up delegating the operations of my soul to the experts.  I no longer deal with God myself–I’m a layperson, after all.  I still, of course, engage in the usual range of God-related activities and retain a considerable vocabulary of God-referencing words and phrases to which the experts guide me.  I’m quite happy to be enlisted in God-projects and  often pleased to be recruited to play my part in contributing and helping the trained and certified professionals–but always with a self-deprecating awareness that pastors and professors are my superiors in these matters.

Following Jesus gives way to following Jesus-experts.  It isn’t long before I have acquired all the habits of a consumer in relation to God, letting someone else supply all the essential goods and services.  I’m a religious consumer, that’s true, but a  consumer all the same–a soul condition deeply marred by passivity.


Eugene, why do you have go saying stuff like that?  You know: Stuff that cuts.  Stuff that’s sharp.  Stuff that’s true.

Why, man?!

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