On Minding Your Own Business

On Minding Your Own Business: Religion in Daily Life

By the Rev. Edward Chinn, D.Min. echinn@promedia.infi.net
Pastor, All Saints' Church
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19114

Written 2 October 1999

"Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people's business." This plain speaking came from Jesse Ventura, the governor of Minnesota. In an interview in Playboy published in early October, Ventura commented on drugs, prostitution, the Navy's 1991 Tailhook scandal, and religion (The Philadelphia Inquirer, 1 October 1999). Although it may come as a surprise to Jesse and others, I believe that Jesus of Nazareth and one of his early followers, the Apostle Paul, would agree with Ventura on minding one's own business.

After Jesus had gone through death, come out the other side and been raised, he appeared to his friends. At one appearance, Jesus questioned Simon Peter three times, asking, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" As Peter affirmed his love, Jesus told him to carry on his work as a pastor. Peter turned and saw his fellow-apostle John walking behind him. Peter asked Jesus, "Lord, what about him?" Jesus replied, "If I want him to live until I come back, that is not your business. You follow me" (John 21:20-22, The Everyday Bible). Whether the followers of Jesus "stick their noses in other people's business" or not, it is clear that Jesus himself said in effect: "Mind your own business."

Twice in letters to Christians in the city of Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul told his fellow-believers to mind their own business. In his letter to this capital city of the Roman province of Macedonia, Paul wrote: "Make it your aim to live a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to earn your own living, just as we told you before" (1 Thessalonians 4:11, TEV). In this letter, Paul referred to a previous occasion when he had told them the same thing. Again, in his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote: "We hear that there are some people among you who live lazy lives and who do nothing except meddle in other people's business" (2 Thessalonians 3:11). Obviously, like Jesse Ventura, the Apostle Paul disliked busybodies intensely.

When you intrude into another's business, there's the possibility that you'll feel either smug or discouraged. You may see yourself as either superior or inferior to the other person. Furthermore, when you stick your nose into another's business, you may fail to mind your own business, namely the business of taking care of yourself. When the Apostle Paul was leaving friends at Ephesus, he told them, "Be careful about your own spiritual life" (Acts 20:28, Barclay).


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