Hi everyone, Rob here.
I’ve been pondering these words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 recently;
…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
This was a church that was suffering under the weight of persecution, probably economic, as Christians turned away from pagan guilds and the official gods of the empire. Paul’s response to this was to encourage them to do manual work, live simply and quietly and be generous members of the wider church family (the Thessalonians had been supporting other churches in Macedonia and Paul asks them to grow in this).
It’s a response that goes against the grain in many ways. After all they were suffering from severe injustice. Shouldn’t they protest and make official complaints? Why should they give more when they were already being persecuted? Shouldn’t they save money in case it gets worse? Paul says no. Get on with what you can do. Live a quiet life. Be honourable members of society.
Paul is giving great respect to the power of the everyday. It’s not about the grand gesture or the dramatic response. There is power in our everyday interactions when they are done in the way of Jesus. I admit to struggling with this concept! I have discovered that I struggle with it because it’s much harder. It’s relatively easy for me to come up with bold statements and big ideas but it’s much harder to be a constant loving presence, especially when I’m tired, frustrated or introspective. It involves being proactive in my prayer life, being attuned to the movements of my heart and dependent on the Spirit of Jesus to show himself in me as I put my trust in him.
One of our problems is that we take the everyday for granted. It’s always there after all. For me, there’s always been a dissonance between ordinary, day-to-day living and the knowledge that we’re all made for significance, for the extraordinary. But what if the ordinary is the extraordinary? What if I started the day immersed in the fact that I am in Christ and he is in me? What if I didn’t need a long shower and a coffee (not at the same time) before I was kind and loving to my family? What if I engaged in small acts of service and didn’t need anyone to notice? What if I did household chores before I got asked?
When you think about it we all want peace in the world. We want nations and neighbours to be kind to each other. We want countries and co-workers to be considerate and caring. In other words we want people to live their everyday life in a more peaceful and loving manner. When that happens something extraordinary has just occurred hasn’t it?
This isn’t to say that you want find the cure for cancer or preach a sermon that changes someone’s life. It’s just to say that the Spirit-led life, the life connected to Jesus, is lived every day! It’s lived around family, work and friends. It’s power exists in our ability to engage, in the name of Jesus, with life as it really is and finding ourselves resourced by God’s kingdom as we deal with it. A quiet life is not a powerless life. An ordinary life is anything but.
Jesus loves us, is with us and is using today to further his kingdom through us. Now, that’s what I call extraordinary.