Living Quietly for Christ?

Is Paul’s urging to live quietly, mind your own affairs, and work with your hands (1 Thessalonians 4:11) only for losers? Do you feel that you’re wasting your gifts if you “settle” into an ordinary job, get married early and start a family, or live in a small town or suburb? Acton Institute Power Blogger Anthony Bradley has some provocative thoughts on the “new legalism.” —Marvin Olasky

Read The New Legalism here.

8cfe6b9824a189eadf33b518a30b480dIn my future I hope to be an encourager and helpmate to my husband and to teach my children at home to live graciously, kindly, generously, to know right from wrong and to hold fast to truth. I want my home to be a place where the standard is grace—not perfection—and where faith is lived out, relationships with God deepen, and good character is applauded. A life like this is not glamorous, it’s ordinary, but as the author Jen Leman said, I don’t want to be famous or popular or known for anything other than that I was deep and wise and had a soul that was wildly beautiful, full of mercy and light.”

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3 responses to “Living Quietly for Christ?

  1. Wow… I have a flood of things to say that can’t adequately be addressed in less two hours, but the article brushed the surface of the questions I’ve asked myself since moving back to Indiana.

    I feel like I have an interesting point-of-view on this topic having been a paid minister within a small and comfortable community church, and facing the front lines of urban ministry. Not a week goes by where I don’t wonder whether I’m doing something wrong by returning to a town of 5000. Whether that’s projected guilt or an understanding of God’s greater purpose can feel a little grey at times, and I’m forced to personally sift between His truth and what mankind has raised on it’s own pedestal. Here’s some of what I’ve determined as the pendulum has swung.

    There are some practices of the traditional American church that I cannot justify and for which I will not return. That is to say, I don’t think that living a quiet life of marriage, family, work, and establishment (i.e. “settling”) is mutually exclusive with having a missionary mindset for ministry. Sure, many in the past ten years have given or received this message in a corrupt or legalistic manner, but it doesn’t discredit why many from my generation left the church long ago. In the end, I think it’s an issue of the heart and one of stewardship — are we willing to practice our faith in love and obedience, neither exhibiting a narcissistic martyrdom nor fostering a christianized version of self-preserving patriotism? I think both are equally dangerous in regards to advancing His kingdom.

    That said, I agree with the other 90% of this article. There’s always been a pressure in the church (regardless of its modern construct) to be something, and it usually correlates with the secular values of the given age. As a church, we value the personality, skill, and common cause that best equips us to interact with the world. If the world values extroversion and social justice, you better believe the church is looking for leaders that are vocally polished and politically aware; in itself this is narrow-minded and contrary to 1 Corinthians 6 or Ephesians 4, but whether intentionally or not, it is communicated that quietly raising an upright family through gifts of servanthood is a lesser role.

    I began wondering: suppose the most successful urban ministry accomplishes the complete transformation and restoration of their community both spiritually and physically… having accomplished that purpose, would they then condemn those who are blessed by that transformation for living in the comfort produced by that transformation? That seems a bit ridiculous, right? Would everyone be expected to abandon the restored place for another dark one in order to be a good Christian?

    Of course not! The point of restoration is so that those restored can proclaim the glory of the Lord, through the stewardship of the grace they’ve received! And the truth is, I could be proclaiming that glory in my town of 5000 today — perhaps “quietly” and with the meekness of one that doesn’t experience the daily intensity of the front lines, but the point isn’t to condemn the rural and suburban dwellers. The aim should be for every believer to consider him or herself to be at God’s disposal for His purposes, even if 99% of those purposes have been fulfilled millions of times over the course of eternity. God doesn’t need us to be unique or cutting-edge — nothing is made that He did not perceive or invent Himself. What he desires us to be is willing and obedient. Far be it from others to tell us that one sort of obedience is more righteous than another.

    • First, thanks for commenting. I greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts.

      How long were you a pastor? I didn’t know this about you before.

      I agree, it isn’t so much where one is or what lifestyle they choose that matters; it’s a matter of the heart. If someone wants to serve in love and obedience by being a missionary to young people in NYC and someone else wants to serve in love and obedience through marriage and raising a family in a small mid-western town of 5,000 (or in my case, the town’s 4,500), I believe they’re each able to glorify God with their lives.

      Honestly, I have nothing to add. I agree with all your thoughts whole-heartedly, and I’m glad you shared them!

      I would be interested in hearing your thoughts about the traditional, modern American church sometime. I remember you mentioning this topic before, but have never known what your thoughts really are.

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