What did the Apostles teach lay Christians?

In our generation, clericalism has led most Christians to believe that the only TRUE Christians are those who hang out with their pastors as often as possible and busy themselves with clerical issues.  This priest-glorifying religion has been a plague to Christianity since the beginning of the Church, but it has nothing to do with the teaching of Our Lord and His holy Apostles.

Our Lord was a simple man, who was content to spend his days among the poor, working class and even children.  He came and dwelt among us.  He was comfortable in the fields with laborers, among the flocks with shepherds, at sea with fishermen and pulled children up on his lap while He spoke.  He chose to enter Jerusalem upon a common donkey and had no hang-ups about ceremony and celebrations.

His Apostles, learning from his example only after many humbling experiences, imitated Him after His ascension.  When St. Paul was sent by the Apostles from Jerusalem to the Gentiles, he says this:

“James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship: that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision: Only that we should be mindful of the poor: which same thing also I was careful to do.”

In Romans 12:16, St. Paul reminds the Christians:  “Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.”

Those who entangle themselves in political issues and social controversies love to quote St. Paul’s exhortation in 1 Timothy, where he writes:

“I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men: for kings, and for all that are in high station…”

Yet, it appears that they have no real interest in the goal of that prayer, which follows:

“that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life in all piety and chastity.”

It is the man who leads the quiet and peaceable life who enjoys the end of that exhortation, not the man whose life is spent reading news headlines and wrangling about laws and governments or the social activity of unbeilevers.

Lastly, and most helpfully, St. Paul shares this wonderful instruction with the Christians in Thessalonica, which should guide our lives as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and neighbors:

“Use your endeavour to be quiet, and that you do your own business, and work with your own hands, as we commanded you: and that you walk honestly towards them that are without; and that you want nothing of any man’ s.”

Isn’t that such simple and practical doctrine for Christian families?  Our business is not the daily concerns of priests and bishops, who are freed from the business of secular life for their unique work, but for our our businesses, families and natural social circles.  We ought to work prudently, in quietness and honesty because we are they who interact with those outside the Church and they are able to see our wisdom, justice, generosity and happiness as we collaborate with them in fulfilling our original work as the husbandmen and guardians of God’s creatures.

Let us us live in the pursuit of happiness, serving the Lord and minding our own business.

WM

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