The Mission of the Layperson

This is taken from a talk I gave on a Via de Cristo weekend many years ago, but it seemed appropriate to include it this month.

By virtue of our baptism, we, as laypeople of the church have been called to live a new life, to “put on Christ.”  We are His hands and feet and voice in the world.  The church I visit in Myrtle Beach every year has a sign you see when you are exiting from the parking lot.  It says, “you are now entering the mission field.”  Our mission field is wherever we are–it is our family, our friends, the people we meet at work and in our neighborhoods.  And where you are is no accident– Martin Luther, in one of his sermons says,

“therefore, where you are in a calling that is not sinful in itself, you are certainly placed there by God.”

Isn’t that exciting?  It’s not only the clergy who are called, but every one of us.  Called to do God’s work in the place and with the people He has given to us.

In the same sermon, Luther says:

“To be spiritual and not busy with God’s word, which should be your special work, is like being married and never being together.”

A happy marriage radiates joy.  It reaches out and touches others.  The life of grace is the same.  Our whole life is changed and that change affects those around us.  Listen to what Christian author Catherine Jackson says will happen if we conform our life to Christ’s:

“When a believer follows the Lord faithfully several evidences appear sooner or later.  Meekness and quietness of spirit become….characteristics of daily life.  Other outward signs are:  grateful acceptance of the will of God as it comes in the hourly events of each day;  pliability in the hands of God to do or bear whatever He assigns us;  a sweet disposition, even under provocation, calmness in the midst of turmoil and confusion, willingness to let others have their way, refusal to notice slights and affronts, absence of worry, anxiety and fear.”

By living out our life in this kind of visible witness the good news becomes real, and the world in which we live is transformed.  As one new Christian told me, “who wouldn’t want to be part of this?”

Realizing both our human ideal and God’s ideal for us isn’t easy.  Even the world says, “no pain, no gain.”  We must commit ourselves to living out the life of grace in every way that we can.  In our personal, professional, civic, economic and academic pursuits we are called to be saints and to make the world holy.