Saturday, June 07, 2008

Sunday Devotions: The Quiet Life

Paul urges us to lead a quiet life, minding our own business, and working with our hands. It's a Christian pipe dream, because the world always invades our space. In China, a Christian businessman has been arrested for national security reasons because he was letting other Christians worship there. The crime is punishable by death.

Podcast version here

1 Thessalonians 4:11 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.

It sounds like the ideal way to live a Christian life. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just get along together? Leading a quiet life and minding my own business seems like an idyllic way of existing. No squabbles, no arguments, no worries, and no concerns. Just keeping your head down, working at your business, and getting on with life. It would be heaven on earth.

But then reality invades my world and I realize that this is just a Christian pipe dream of Paul’s. Life is far from quiet and is in fact much too noisy. No matter how hard I try to mind my own business, someone always says or does something that affects me. And often, when I go to do my work, something occurs which changes my schedule and I have to set aside the projects I wanted to accomplish. I would love for Paul’s Utopia to exist, but unless I joined a silent monastery in a far off place, I’m never going to accomplish it.

I’m also reminded that Christians around the world don’t have it so easy either. Take Alimujiang Yimiti for example. He was quietly working at his business in Uyghur, China in September last year, when Chinese government officials closed it down. They stated that he was using his business as a cover for “preaching Christianity among the Uyghuri people.” Four months later, Alimujiang was arrested and accused of “subversion of the national government and endangering national security.” This crime is punishable by death. Ali has been in prison for six months awaiting trial.

So much for just living a quiet life and working with your hands! Ali became a Christian more than ten years ago and has been an active member of the growing Uyghur Church.

We Westerners get so upset in our churches when things don’t go our way, but I really wonder what we would do if we were threatened with arrest for national security reasons just because we are Christians? The things that are perhaps important to us pale into insignificance when we put them beside what Alimujiang and thousands of other Christians in China are enduring.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we all want our lives to be smooth and trouble-free. We want our needs to be met and our desires to be fulfilled. Sometimes we forget that our wishes and ways are not what You ask of us. Sometimes we need to be reminded that faith isn’t a leisure pursuit or a group activity; it’s a serious life commitment and one that others are being imprisoned, tortured, and even killed for, across the world. In Your Holy Name, we humbly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to:

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