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"Are You Reverend?"

One year when my daughter was in elementary school I was asked to lead the invocation at back-to-school night. Just before time to begin, the PTA president, who was to introduce me, came and asked, “Are you reverend?” I was glad she asked. Most do not. Some insist on putting that title before a preacher’s name even when he requests that they do not.

My dictionary gives two meanings for reverend. “1. worthy of reverence: revered. 2. of or relating to the clergy.” I readily acknowledge that I am neither of these.

To revere is “to show deferential honor to: regard as worthy of great honor.” Synonyms are venerate, worship, adore. No man is worthy to be so exalted. When Cornelius fell down before Peter the Apostle replied, “Stand up, for I too am just a man” (Acts 10:26). John once fell down before an angel to worship at its feet. The angel responded, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours. . . Worship God” (Revelation 22:9).

The only time the word reverend occurs in the Bible is in Psalm 111:9 in the King James Version, where it refers to God: “holy and reverend is his name.” Most translations say “awesome.”
Clergy is not a Bible word at all. It means “a group ordained to perform pastoral or sacerdotal [priestly] functions in a Christian church.” The Bible affirms that all Christians are priests. “You also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God” (1 Peter 2:5). “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession . . .” (v. 9). God makes no clergy/laity distinction among His people.

Read Matthew 23:6-12 to see what Jesus thinks of wearing religious titles. We are all brethren. I am satisfied with that, and I hope you are too.

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