Summary: There are those who are called to be Priests or Pastors, but the whole body of Christians are called to actually be the Priesthood of Believers.
According to Peter, all are called to the Priesthood, the family of God is a Royal Priesthood. "But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy." (1 Peter 2:9-10 NKJV)
The congregation had once been a vital ministry. It had grown to be the largest congregation in that part of the state. But over the years they had shrunk to the point where people were beginning to be concerned about the church's survival. Finally, their bishop sent a representative to talk with them about their future. Unless they made some real changes in how they viewed the church, their future was bleak.
A team of leaders was selected and a new pastor arrived on the scene. This new leadership team went to a retreat in Baltimore to begin training. The time was intensive with heavy attention paid to the leaders' spiritual journeys and God's vision for their lives and the life of the congregation. The event facilitators used art, journaling, videos, small groups -- everything that they could to get the participants outside of their shells and to explore God's call to them.
After a night of planning the leaders were to come back to present their vision for the congregation. Sandra, one of the leaders, had tears in her eyes. "I guess I never really knew that God had so much for me to do," she said. "I always thought that I was to serve the church. This is the first time I ever really understood that I am the church. God uses people like us to make his kingdom happen. I just never knew...."
It is the place of the people of God to be the church. To be witness to what God has done in our lives. Some are called to the classic priest or pastor role, but the entire church is called to tell others about Jesus Christ and how He has affected our lives. We are not called to save people, we are called to introduce them to the Savior, He will take care of the rest. That is why the scriptures talk about the gifts of the Spirit, it is through these gifts that we are empowered to be the church, to be the witness God has called us to be.
Our witness may just be a listening ear, sometimes, folks just need to know that someone cares enough to listen to their pain. Perhaps it might be in helping someone find services they need, perhaps by visiting someone in the hospital or nursing home, having a word of prayer with that person. Teaching young children about Christ and His love for them is another form of witness. There are truly many ways to bring an awareness of God into the lives of those around us.
The story is told of a young woman who was being prayed for: "A student at a Catholic college was hospitalized after a car wreck. A group of nuns from the college visited her. They said they had been praying for her. A priest had mentioned her at morning mass, and at afternoon chapel, and the sisters said they prayed for her all the time. She said to the nuns, "Thank you very much, but will it count? You see, I'm not Catholic."
The oldest nun touched her hand and said, "Don't you worry, dear. We just say the prayers. Then God can do whatever he wants with you.""
We are not called to do more than use the gifts we have received from the Spirit of God to introduce others to God.
We are also called to live to a high moral standard. Jesus died sinless, we too are to die to sin and to live moral lives. It pains me greatly to hear about priests and pastors who have affairs, or who have abused children. I do hope and pray that this will be taken care of responsibly by the Roman Catholic Church, but also with an eye toward redemption. Those who have sinned in this way must never be put into positions where they can again be tempted to abuse children, but God's Son died for these sins too.
Having said that, let me also say that there is a tremendous amount of temptation out there, we are all tempted to sin, and the real problem is, sin is fun, at least as the world looks at it. Whether it is the trip to Las Vegas, the lottery tickets, or a fling with someone not your spouse. These can all be sins. There is nothing wrong with Las Vegas, there is when you go to gamble, there is nothing wrong with Lottery Tickets, unless you think that they are your way to easy street. We always manage to get ourselves tangled up in scandals of one type of another, but we also seem to manage hiding the stuff we do, or excusing it because it isn't a big sin. So the church is tangled up with all this pedophilia, and rightly so, but there is not outcry about the sin of theft, of multiple divorces of pastors. There is no scandal about the use of pornography among Christian men either, yet, this is a huge problem in our society.