Saturday, 20 December 2008

Ambitious for what?

I have had 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 on my mind recently:
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to 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. "
It is an intriguing thing to be instructed to be ambitious for a quiet life as opposed to the amplified lives of visible activity, that announce busyness to a world that is obsessed by outward manifestations of work. Another bible translation talks about living a calm life, indeed, a calm life is exactly what is necessary in this disturbed and shaken world. What an uncertain and troubled
world needs are communities of disciples living unflappable, calm and quiet lives of faith and love. We need to ask ourselves whether we are contributing to the disturbance by trying to work our way out of difficult circumstances by frantic activity and our own endeavour or are we living the calm life of faith.
Minding your own business is also a big challenge to us! Too often we look over our shoulders at others like Peter did at John (John 21) and we need to hear Jesus saying to us, as he did to Peter "You must follow me." Minding your own business is about simply following - not sitting in judgement on others and making their business yours. Of course we should be allowing the principles of Matthew 18:15-17 to guide us so that we live accountable lives as Christ-like community but there is a difference between that and being busy-bodies!
The thing is that we all have work to do. There is a purpose to our lives - we are to get on with pursuing that which God has called us to do - getting on with it not for our own benefit but because what we do has an effect on those looking on. This is one of the things that we value as a church - everyone getting on with the work the Lord has given them rather than just the chosen few. You no doubt will have noticed that the church doesn't get very much respect. I think this may be because we haven't earned it by getting on with following Jesus in our daily lives, we have put too much focus on the church and not enough on Jesus.
We are called to be 'plantings of the Lord for the display of his splendour' (Isaiah 61:3) - sometimes I think we take our eyes off this truth and forget that the work of God in our lives will always be about enabling us to become something that shows his glory. I hope and pray that this Christmas and into the New Year we will be able to focus on becoming plantings of the Lord for his splendour.

1 comment:

James Sharratt said...

Thanks Mark, really challenging thoughts. It’s especially good to pray through this as one year draws to a close and we begin, once more to consider the hopes, dreams, direction and challenges that a new year brings . . . Thank you

James S

All to Jesus I Surrender, All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live.

I surrender all, I surrender all,
All to Thee, my bless├Ęd Saviour, I surrender all.

All to Jesus I surrender, Humbly at His feet I bow;
Worldly pleasures all forsaken, Take me, Jesus, take me now.

All to Jesus I surrender, Make me, Saviour, wholly Thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit, Truly know that Thou art mine.

All to Jesus I surrender, Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power, Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender, Now I feel the sacred flame;
O the joy of full salvation! Glory, glory to His name!