“But we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more, 11to aspire to live quietly, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we directed you, 12so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and be dependent on no one.”
1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12
There’s some mystery in that verse to me; “…aspire to live quietly…” I’m not sure what to make of it. I understand that as Christians we are called to engage culture and to “have a spine” but here, in 1 Thessalonians, the writers says to do something very different. To me this verse doesn’t really fit into scripture, I especially think that in light of the noise so many Christians make. I’m trying to make sense of it. About what are we supposed to be quiet?
While we were in Sacramento we saw some “Gay marriage” protestors (the ones in the picture). They were not being so quite. If you look at the sign it’s pretty loud. Immediately when I see things like this, let me be honest with you, I want to hate the people carrying the signs. I want to take them out back and show them what sin looks like (catch my drift?). I want to but I don’t. I talk myself into remembering that God loves them too and then, in a reluctant way, I begin to love them. I think of them as misled with good intentions.
There’s a law in America that says something to the effect if you are witness to a crime and could have helped stop it you are an accomplice. We are required by law to speak out on things. God called many people to speak out throughout the scriptures as well. In Ezekiel 16 God says to Ezekiel “Son of man, confront Jerusalem with her loathsome sins.” Not only Does God call Ezekiel to speak out but He calls him to speak out about their sins. Is this not what the protestors are doing? Are they misled or am I? Are they supposed to speak out or be quiet? Why are both of these ideas taught in scripture if they contradict?
I have to ask, what kind of message is being sent through these signs? Are they really speaking out about a sin or about a people?
Ezekiel 16 is my favorite passage in scripture, it has been for a while, but every single time I read it I get something new from it.
There is some confusing language but here’s a summary; God tells Ezekiel to tell Jerusalem about it’s sins. He tells a story (He’s a good story teller) of Jerusalem. It starts out that Jerusalem is a baby about to die when God “passes by.” God has “compassion” and love for Jerusalem so He helps her to grow healthy and beautiful. God loves her so much, He marries her, and adorns her with jewels and food and all she would ever need. They are living together harmoniously and passionately in love until Jerusalem takes pride in her beauty and cheats on God.
She becomes a prostitute, worse than a prostitute. At one point she even denies payment for her harlotry. God decides to turn her over to her lovers who will pretty much rape her. They strip her of all her beautiful jewels and leave her naked. It does not end here… God remembers the covenant He made with her in her youth and forgives her. This message God asks Ezekiel to speak out against Jerusalem includes judgment but ends with hope, forgiveness.
I think maybe I can make sense of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. Maybe our ambition is to live a quiet life and not make a stink but if the world makes a stink we have to speak out. But what is the message we are speaking?
Does our message end in hope; does it illustrate the beautiful love God has for us and tell of His promise to His people? Maybe the best way for us to speak out is to get our hands dirty and actually work out the problems with our “hands.”
If we feel it’s necessary to speak out against homosexuality (and I do believe that it’s not what God had in mind) then maybe just maybe we should shut our mouths and open our arms. Our message as followers of Christ who remember the cross does not end in judgment but in forgiveness. It does not point out how dark the dark is but it shines bright. It does not tell of God’s disappointment but his passionate love for His people. It, instead of holding signs on the street corners engages the lives of God's people.
“And I will reaffirm my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD.”