But we encourage you, brothers and sisters, to do this even more, to seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, so that you may behave properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone.
1 Thessalonians 4:10-12
As Christians, we have been radically saved by amazing grace. We, dead in sin have been made alive by God and transferred into the kingdom of light. He has qualified us to be sons and daughters of the Most High God (Col. 1:12-14). This is an extraordinary reality we live in.
But, unlike so many of the books and blogs we may read today, our lives don’t necessarily have to be “radical” or “missional” etc. We love buzzwords and as humans, we love the notion of being radical or rebellious. It is kind of exciting to have people view us in such a light; at least to our flesh it is. Recent works on evangelism and cultural interaction have taught Christianity is “rebelling against the culture!” No, this cannot be our primary ambition. We are submitting to our Creator. This is our primary aim. Now, in submitting to our Creator we will of course rebel against the direction our culture is going (1 John 2:15-17). But, we aren’t looking to be rebellious first, just obedient to our God. Yet there are so many books nowadays on being “Radical” and “Extraordinary.” Do we have to have big dreams and plans to truly honor Jesus? The thought of being content with being an ordinary, normal person feels like settling, does it not? Are we called to be extraordinary ambassadors for Christ? In a word, no.
Michael Horton writes in his book Ordinary, “Sometimes, chasing our dreams can be “easier” than just being who we are, where God has placed us, with the gifts he has given to us.” God does not call us to be extraordinary, he calls us to be faithful. Tim Chester and Steve Timmis concur in Total Church, “Most gospel ministry involves ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality.” The problem with our culture and even some sectors of the Church is everyone wants to stand out. The irony is if everyone is fighting for exposure, no one really sticks out in the chaotic mass emerging from such pursuits.
If churches built their ministries around catering to people who always wanted to be extraordinary, would we really have worship services anymore? It seems to me the mindset of Christians living extraordinarily would cater quite easily to a performance-based style of worship/living. We would go to church to give something to God or magnify our exceptional sainthood. Rather than going to gather with God’s people to feed and be fed so Christ’s church would grow into his fullness (Eph. 4:13). Even the spiritual gifts Paul speaks on in 1 Corinthians 12-14 are to be done in an orderly manner (14:40) and are always to be done for the edification of the church (14:5). The gifts the Spirit gives are not for our exaltation, but for Christ’s glory as all who witness our sovereignly bestowed heart change and desire to love and serve others in a self-sacrificial manner are forced to praise God for his transformative work in our lives. The fact we are given different gifts within the church is not so we can all boast in our uniqueness. Different gifts reveal we are weak and need each other. We are not extraordinary people, we are needy and ordinary sinners who have been saved by the extraordinary grace of Christ. Maybe the most revolutionary thing our culture needs to see is Christians being OK with being “normal.”
The gospel is not made much of in the world only by charismatic, anointed, preachers and missionaries. God most certainly uses individuals with such characteristics and roles. Keep in mind the apostle James teaches us,“not many of you are to become teachers” (James 3:1). This means the majority of saints in this world are not preachers/teachers. I am sure you have heard the phrase “we are all missionaries” and if you are like me you have probably rolled your eyes at such a statement. Working a 9-5 job and living paycheck to paycheck, or being a stay at home mom, or going through high school and college and training for a career where your vocation is not gospel proclamation/Bible exposition may seem to be falling short of being a “missionary” in your mind. So the statement almost seems condescending, leaving you feeling like a second-class missionary.
However, the new testament teaches the very reputation of the gospel is preserved by the ordinary activity of Christian employees, mothers, students etc. Paul teaches a young married mother protects God’s word from being slandered by loving her husband and submitting to him while loving her children and training them in godliness, and managing the home well (Titus 2:4-5). He also teaches servants (who in our modern-day application can be viewed as employees and even students) “adorn the teaching of God our Savior” (2:10b) by “not talking back and demonstrating utter faithfulness” (2:9). You do not need to go overseas to spread the aroma of Christ to the world. Just stop talking back to your boss and stealing the companies money by working half-heartedly while on the clock. Then when they remark on your exemplary work ethic you can adorn the gospel. Christ will be viewed credibly and not be defamed by your work. Changing diapers, washing dishes, doing the laundry, breaking up another argument between siblings, these may not seem in the moment like the front lines of gospel defense, but God says it is. The elderly man or woman who is mentoring the younger saints in the church highlights the gospel (Titus 2:3-4). The wife who is married to an unsaved husband and humbles her heart to respect him in hopes that he would be won over is a front-line missionary to a difficult people-group (1 Pet. 3:1). These examples of faithful, ordinary, and often painful service glisten before God. The content heart of the Christian who fulfills their God-given role with joy amidst the monotony and challenge day-after-day brings great delight to God and shines powerfully in this world of discontentment and covetousness.
So take heart, fellow normal Christian. You do not need a change of circumstances or scenery to please God. He desires to use you right where you are as you faithfully serve him in seemingly ordinary ways.