In recent years, the idea of living radically for Jesus has swept through western Evangelicalism. This is due in part to the widespread social-justice “gospel” movement (which is not The Gospel at all; it is ‘another gospel‘). No longer are Christians content to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you (1 Thessalonians 4:11). That concept has gone to the wayside in exchange for being radical; doing big things.
This concerns me for several reasons, one of which is that it is not backed by scripture, as the 1 Thessalonians verse above makes clear. Secondly, it is a discouragement for the majority of regular believers who are being sold the idea that committed Christians have exciting lives filled with
special work (read ‘noticeable by others’) for Christ.
The fact of the matter is that God is sovereign over our circumstances, and He has planted us where He wants us to be. As Paul reminds us regarding spiritual gifts:
For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. (1 Corinthians 12:14-18)
I believe this concept is applicable to the work God has given us in our daily lives as well. Not everyone is called to be a missionary or pastor. We aren’t all feet.
Most of us live regular lives in which we are married, and have children. Anyone who is married knows that marriage brings an additional maturity and growth. Even more so when we become parents.
God designed marriage and the family unit as the most basic building block of society. In the very beginning in Genesis 2:18;24 we see this: Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him….. For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
The natural result of marriage is children. Psalm 127:3-5 says this of children:
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
5 How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
Marriage is a picture for us of Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-32).
One of the most obvious purposes God has for marriage becomes apparent almost immediately after exchanging those vows. Marriage is for our sanctification. It is through the constant mutual submission to one another’s needs that we learn to pick up our cross daily, to think better of others than ourselves, and to place others needs before our own. It is very difficult to forget your sin when you live with another person 24-7. You cannot fool yourself into believing that you have no areas in which you need to grow. Your blind spots become readily visible in the mirror your spouse holds up for you.
How much more so when our marriages produce children? We have the enormous responsibility and privilege to properly care for and love the children God has graciously given us. We are also the first and most important conduit in which His glorious gospel is delivered to them. It is our high responsibility and privilege to teach our children the scriptures and their need of the Savior!
As parents we are further challenged in our selfishness when we have kids whose needs must come before our own. Parenting is most definitely a way in which the Lord matures us. It is an intense combination of slaying one’s self-centeredness, picking up ones cross, combined with the weight of concern for those we love so dearly. Parenting teaches us to pray and to rely on the Lord in a way that no other situation can.
I say all of this to encourage you, my fellow believers. Committed Christians faithfully serve the Lord by living quiet lives, many of us married with children, being part of a local body of believers, sharing the gospel with our neighbors and friends. It is common work, but it is important work! The home is your primary mission field, and your primary ministry. A Christians life is ordered in this way: God, spouse, family, local assembly. Be encouraged today! The Lord is pleased when you serve and minister in your marriage and home.
Soli Deo Gloria!