Monday, November 5, 2012

Quiet Ambition


I have been asked the question before,
"So... what are you doing now?"
Actually, they started asking me shortly after I got married.
I think I have finally come to the answer.
"We are living quietly."

There are circles of Christianity for whom quiet living is a failure.
Because we adopt the values of our culture.
And quietness and rest are not American values.
American values have to do with productivity.
With sweat and effort and efficiency.
With action and movement and full schedules.
If we aren't working hard, we strive to play hard.
But Christians ought not to be known for their tumult. 

God did not call us to live in immorality, but in holiness. 
So then, whoever rejects this teaching 
is not rejecting a human being, but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. 
There is no need to write you about love for each other. 
You yourselves have been taught by God 
how you should love one another. 
And you have, in fact, behaved like this 
toward all the believers in all of Macedonia. 
So we beg you, our friends, to do even more. 
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. 
In this way you will win the respect of those who are not believers, 
and you will not have to depend on anyone for what you need. 
1 Thessalonians 4:7-12

I exhort therefore, first of all, 
that supplications, prayers, intercessions, thanksgivings, 
be made for all men; for kings and all that are in high place; 
that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life 
in all godliness and gravity. 
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; 
who would have all men to be saved, 
and come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:1-4 

But the wisdom from above is pure first of all; 
it is also peaceful, gentle, and friendly; 
it is full of compassion and produces a harvest of good deeds; 
it is free from prejudice and hypocrisy. 
And goodness is the harvest that is produced 
from the seeds the peacemakers plant in peace.
James 3:17-18

It's a tall order in a loud world.
Let us not be the noise.

Then justice shall dwell in the wilderness; 
and righteousness shall abide in the fruitful field. 
And the work of righteousness shall be peace; 
and the effect of righteousness, 
quietness and confidence for ever. 
And my people shall abide in a peaceable habitation, 
and in safe dwellings, 
and in quiet resting-places.
Isaiah 32:16-18

One of the differences between the aged and the young
is their level of activity.
The youth in any society are the ones who speed around,
climbing and racing, and moving between their furious pursuits.
As men mature, they slow their steps,
and they lessen their speech,
and they value peace and home and family.
Their testosterone levels fall,
allowing the oxytocin they naturally produce
to work its magic in nurturing others.
Their aggression fades, and they take up gardening.
There is a good reason the church ought to be headed up by older men.
Older men don't need to fight with everyone.
They aren't off conquering the world, and beating their opponents.
They are accessible to younger men, to women and children.
Their ambitions have grown quiet.
They don't agitate for war.

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