Quiet faith is not silent faith. Neither is it voiceless faith or violent faith. Quiet faith seems like a loser in a world where the loudest voices appear to win the day instead of the truest and wisest argument. Quiet faith isn’t about noise levels at all. There is quiet faith in the decibels of loud worship as well our silent moments alone with God. Volume is not the issue although some have used loudness to cover up a lack of faith; shouting at the heavens as if God is hard of hearing. Quiet faith is an unshakable foundation that absorbs rather than amplifies the turmoil around it.
There isn’t one verse that directly describes quiet faith. We do however find it hidden like a foundation stone in a passage Paul wrote to Timothy. “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” (1 Timothy 2:1–8, NASB95)
Paul begins by urging prayers, petitions, intercession and (see this!) giving thanks for all, for kings, and for authorities. Historically speaking, the prevailing government of Paul’s day was brutal and corrupt. That same government crucified Christ to keep the peace of an insignificant province. It sometimes persecuted and martyred believers in Jesus. Prayers, petitions, and intercession – got it, I understand that. But giving thanks for a brutal Caesar? That stretches our faith to the breaking point.
I know many right-leaning brothers and sisters prayed for left-leaning presidents. But seldom did I hear the note of giving thanks for them. I also hear the same from left-leaning brothers and sisters when there is a right-leaning president. Prayers but seldom is there anything in the way of thanks. Most often the prayers from both sides are more along the lines of – “we pray that you remove this person from office” or “confuse their plans.” Not what Paul had in mind.
It is my opinion that some of the divisions we see in the USA are because believers are amplifying the shocks of political turmoil instead of absorbing them with intercession, prayers, petitions, and giving thanks. Perhaps some future digital archeologist will bear me out on that.
Some may wonder, given Rome’s brutality and corruption, what could Paul possibly have given thanks for. Consider this. The peace that Rome jealously guarded allowed the Good News of Jesus to travel, migrate, and grow across the empire and beyond. Even to Caesar’s own household (Philippians 4:22).
Let’s face it, to the unbeliever our faith in Jesus is offensive. Jesus’ call to surrender offends their self-image. The truth of sinfulness offends their self-worth. The cross and the Good News offends their self-sufficiency. Paul urges that we lead “quiet and tranquil lives” because God wants all to be saved. So what does one have to do with the other?
The gospel folks often encounter is judgemental in nature and tone. A coworker of mine from many years ago was living with a gal without being married. A Christian at his previous job “righteously” berated him more than once for “living in sin.” I don’t know her thoughts or motives but I saw the spiritual damage it caused. Her gospel did not absorb the shock between his lifestyle and God’s desire but amplified them back with extreme results. Much of the anger we receive as Christians is a reflection of our own judgmental attitudes.
There is a time for confrontational crisis evangelism, but I doubt it is to be the norm. Somehow “quiet and peaceable” doesn’t seem to go along with “if you die tonight…” Neither is the goal a quiet life found in the hope that people will see and want what we have. We still proclaim. We still reach out. We still work the field God has given us. But our approach should, more often than not, be winsome. Meeting folks where they are, sensitive to the person while keeping one ear bent to the Holy Spirit.
Lastly, Paul says, “Therefore I want the men (and women) in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” The, therefore, reaches back to Paul’s description of the Good News and God’s desires for all to be saved. What is our response when confronted with the closed fist of angry protest (be it for a cause, someone upset at work, in the marketplace, or our homes)? Are we to join the anger and add our clenched fist to the fight? Are we to fight anger with anger; fist against fist? Are we to debate the cause with belittling words? No to all! That is amplifying instead of absorbing.
Paul provides three related indicators of quiet faith that absorbs the shock of protest and anger. Pray, talk to God and listen to the Holy Spirit before reacting, responding, doing something, or doing nothing. Lift up holy hands. Hands that are open and receptive instead of the clenched and ready to strike. It may mean physically raising our open hands or it may mean having attitudes that reflect the same. Being willing to hear someone else’s story without reflecting back their anger. Thirdly, Paul says that we are to be without wrath or dissension. The temptation is to join the anger of others. Perhaps we feel the cause is just. Perhaps we are diametrically opposed to their position. Either way, we are to avoid reflecting the anger, becoming angry ourselves or engaging in angry debate.
The cause, the complaint, the anger may be just, but we must be careful to absorb instead of amplifying the anger.
So you see, quiet faith is not necessarily silent faith. It is responding and reacting like Jesus when confronted with closed fists, closed minds, wounded hearts, and angry words. Quiet faith absorbs the shocks of the world; making a way for the gospel to be heard. It makes a way for God’s Kingdom to invade, to heal, to bring grace, to encourage forgiveness, to grow love, to give hope, to shine a light on the future, to bring diverse people together as one family, to break the chains of anger, injustice, and sin. To the world, quiet faith seems like a loser, but it is a strong foundation that changes lives for eternity.