The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Highly Qualified

About ten years ago, business author Steven Covey published his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. The book sold about 15 million copies and graced the bookshelves of countless executives and senior management wanna-bes. In his book, Covey details out seven common qualities that make people successful in not only the work place but even in their personal lives. The success of Covey launched a series of corporate guru types. Jim Collins encouraged businesses to be Built to Last and then go from Good to Great. Spencer Johnson MD had folks ponder Who Moved My Cheese; and Covey even published The Eighth Habit. Now one had to take the next step which was going form mere effectiveness to actual greatness.

Most of these strategies and philosophies are artful repackaging of common sense. More recently the secular world has jumped upon a reworking of Buddhism and marketed a more mystical path to enlightenment in such products as The Secret or The Sedona Method. While many of these authors are talented and have a seemingly inspiring message, they all tend to attempt to supplant a core set of values established by Christ when he gave His Sermon on the Mount. Three short little chapters, Matthew 5, 6, and 7, say more about greatness, effectiveness, and how one should live a successful life then all of the secular prophets combined. Small wonder His book, The Bible, remains the number one best seller of all time.

Christ didn't call for habits to be developed. He called for hearts to be changed, for the will to be conformed. The nine beatitudes he describes are often wrongly called the ten commandments of the New Testament. The error is not only one of math, nine versus ten, but rather Our Lord was not giving commandments. Instead he described the nature, the very being of a person who has found supreme happiness. That person is not rich in material, but rather poor in spirit. That person does not revel in self, but rather mourns his sinfulness. Arrogance has no room in this person, but rather meekness. One who seeks God hungers for righteousness, is pure in heart, strives for peace and excels in mercy. Finally, one who finds true happiness, the greatest happiness, willingly endures the persecution of humanity for believing in The Christ.

Perhaps the reason the masses flock to the guru of the moment who lands a slot on Oprah is that the messages of these enlightened seem not only doable, but genuinely self-rewarding. The legacy of original sin maintains that individualism has a far greater allure than self-donation in communion with the mystical body of Christ. Jesus calls for detachment from self versus the total building of self championed by the typical motivational speaker. The idea that one is such a gift from God that he should willingly give himself completely back to the Lord doesn't sell out arenas near as much as the preacher who espouses one to motivate the ego in a particular manner and the world will be one's oyster.

Another reality that exists is the common perception that one is simply not qualified to follow Christ. The famous centurion in Matthew 8:5-10, experienced this unworthiness, but at the same time he encountered faith. Often a sense of unworthiness holds one back from trusting in Our Lord; however as a wonderful priest and author of Soul Within a Peach, Father Francis Chun, recently told this author,

"God does not call the qualified, but rather He qualifies the called."

Who are these called? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 6,632,282,744 people on the planet. Each one of these souls is a child of God. Each one is called. At some point each will seek God. About a third will find Him in Our Lord Jesus Christ. The rest may find Him by ways known only to God. That is the great hope. For while nationality, race, and indigenous religion serves as differentiating factor, man's Creator serves as the common thread of humanity, and all at some point search for their Heavenly Father.

In His mercy and love, God entered human history in the divine person, His only begotten son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. He came to take the burden of sin from humanity; to free him and to help him better understand this yearning for God imbued within each human heart. So while one can chase the greatness of modern man, if he should catch it he soon realizes his victory is fleeting if not Pyrrhic. For God is not found in the exaltation, effectiveness, or even perfection of the "me", but rather in the humility of selflessness and service to God and man as demonstrated by The Christ.

And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 22:37-39

Within these three bold sentences lies the secret to the ultimate success, and all are highly qualified to achieve it.


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