In case the reader was not aware, today [October 9, 2016, gws] has been designated “Clergy Appreciation Day.” This observance began seventeen years ago:
In 1992, layperson Jerry Frear, Jr., was brainstorming with church colleagues about how they might be of help to their minister when he glanced at a calendar and noticed that it was almost Groundhog Day. “I thought, if they have a day for groundhogs, there ought to be a day for the 375,000 clergy people in America,” Frear says.1
There are three problems with Clergy Appreciation Day—Clergy, Appreciation, and Day. Concerning Day, this smacks of a religious holiday. And the New Testament simply does not authorize any religious holiday, much less a man-made holiday:
But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain (Gal. 4:9-11).
Paul indicated that the observation of religious “days” was to turn to “the weak and beggarly elements” of false religion. He indicated that such observances would render vain all his labor on their behalf. As for Clergy, this is not a Biblical designation. Clergy is defined as “the group or body of ordained persons in a religion, as distinguished from the laity.”2 The concept of a priesthood separate from the laity was part of the apostasy that led the people away from New Testament Christianity and from the true church it creates (Luke 8:11; Matt. 13:19). The New Testament designates all Christians as priests (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6).
And concerning Appreciation, this is a misplacement of our appreciation. The Lord does not authorize the designation of certain Christians as clergy, while omitting others. And if it is not authorized it is sinful (Col. 3:17). And as the Lord says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).
However, if the term “clergy” refers to Biblical “priests”—that is, all Christians—we should indeed have appreciation:
Appreciation for the “clergy” who have gone before. We all stand on the shoulders of those who have found and fought for the Truth. Those departed faithful remain an example and encouragement to us all (Heb. 13:7).
Appreciation for the “clergy” who labor for the Lord today. They are not all preaching in the pulpit, but all the members of the body working together make the body function (Eph. 4:16).
Appreciation for what the “clergy” together constitutes. Since all Christians are priests, together they constitute the church (1 Peter 2:5; compare with 1 Tim. 3:15). This is the church for which Christ died (Eph. 5:25); this is the kingdom which will be delivered to the Father at the end of all things (1 Cor. 15:24).
Appreciation for the greatest of all “clergy.” Of Jesus Christ it is written,
Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted (Heb. 2:17-18).
If “clergy” is used to refer to the New Testament priesthood of all Christians, then and only then should we have appreciation for the clergy. But let us be thankful for that “clergy” every day.
1 Annie’s “Clergy Appreciation Day” page available at http://www.annieshomepage.com/clergyday.html.
2 Dictionary.com. s.v. “Clergy.”