“And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11
The rapid advancement and integration of technology in our everyday lives have been such a positive thing. However, it comes with negative elements, too. With unlimited access to information and connection to others, why is it that we feel more disconnected than ever? That is not to mention that hostility levels are at an all-time high. From the moment you wake up, to the moment you lay your head on your pillow at night, the world is fighting for your attention. Be it the internet, billboards, tv, movies, or radio, there has never been more “noise” than there is right now. With schedules packed to the brim and an infinite amount of media to be consumed, Paul urges us in his first letter to the Thessalonians to “aspire to live quietly.”
This verse in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 is found within a portion of Scripture that has been labeled as “A Life Pleasing to God.” I do not know about you, but those five words hold a lot of weight! I find it interesting when I read this passage that a “quiet life” makes the list of a life pleasing to God. Are we not told, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15)? Yes, but I think this is a great reminder of how the manner in which we present the message may in fact be just as important as the message itself. The “quiet life” that Paul references in 1 Thessalonians 4:11 does not mean retreating from the world or moving out into isolation. It is the lens or the filter that drives the decisions on how we live and interact with the world.
In the context of the world we live in today, we need this now more than ever. I cannot help but also bring attention to our presence on social media as well. I do not think Paul had Facebook in mind when he wrote his letters, but these principles hold just as true. I love the way Paul words this in 2 Timothy when he writes, “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Timothy 2:4). Even behind the safety and separation of a computer screen, phone, or tablet, we need to be careful to not entangle ourselves into “civilian affairs.” Even if our intention is “good” in our eyes, we can end up doing more harm than good.
As the salt and light of the Earth (Matthew 5), we are not to retreat or go hide until Jesus comes back. There is a quote from St. Francis of Assisi that says, “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” I love this quote as it embodies the reminder that our “walk” is just as important as our “talk.” This matches the call for us “to live quietly,” which does not need to compromise our presence and impact on the world around us.