“Dwell in the Land and Cultivate Righteousness!”

“Alright, boys…I want you to go out there and be as regular and as ordinary as you can be!”  You ever hear of a coach say such a thing?  Of course not.  No parent tells his child to be regular, any more than a politician tells his constituents that he’s not likely to get anything meaningful done in congress.  We tend to find significance only in the spectacular.

That’s why the pursuit a quiet life of mundane faithfulness (to borrow from a blog) is entirely counter-intuitive to our spectacular-obsessed culture.  Even the Christian subculture has, to a certain extent, bought into the push for personal greatness.

I was reading an entry by a pastor who asked a young man if he wanted to do really great things for the Kingdom of God.  “Absolutely” was the immediate response, followed by clear anticipation of grandeur and heights.  The pastor then pointed to his wife nearby and said, “Marry a woman like that.”  That was it.  Not, “Marry a woman like that…then go do radical things in the amazon.”  Rather, he did something entirely radical in our radicalizing world: he pointed the eager young Christian to regular things. (Side note: some are called to such radical things.  Bless God for that and be encouraged by them.  Most, however, are not).  In effect, the pastor said, “If you want to have the greatest impact for the purposes of God, then live your ordinary life in faithfulness to Him.” That’s true, because believe it or not, most of us are pretty regular people, with average skill levels.  Yet those are the people that God chooses to build His kingdom.  God chose the ‘things that are not’ to bring to nothing the things that are. (1 Corinthians 1:28)  Translation: normal, regular, typical people will be the sharpest tools in God’s box, so that when anything happens to advance the gospel, all glory goes only to God.

We get a peak into the outworkings of this very mandate unto ordinary faithfulness when we find David in Psalm 37:3, “Trust in the Lord and do good.  Dwell in the land and cultivate righteousness.”  The other verses in Psalm 37 get all the press.  Like, “delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  But the overarching concern of the chapter is for a heart that is settled on God, joyfully embracing all His works and promoting righteousness wherever we are.  The mandate to an ordinary Christian life is consistently commended to us in the Scriptures.

Today, some of you will be changing diapers and wondering about your place in the Great Commission.  Others will be cutting lumber or arresting bad guys, and wondering the same thing.  Whatever you do, whether you eat, drink, take a walk or crunch numbers, do all things to the glory of God.  In doing so, you are dwelling in the land and cultivating righteousness.  You’re also positioning yourself to glorify God in the quiet things of life.

You are normal, regular, typical people probably called to an ordinary life.  Don’t buy into the Christian version of pop-culture that tells you that to be significant, you have to be extreme and daring.  You do not.  You need to be faithful and available, because it’s at the confluence of the faithful and the available that God typically shines the brightest for the lasting effects of the Great Commission.

You can ask a lonely shepherd boy in the Hebrew desert, or a virgin teenager in Nazareth.  You can even ask a Pharisee from Tarsus.  They’ll tell you all about faithful, available, ordinary people who grow to love God and change the world.