God’s Call to Obscurity

I don’t know about you, but I’m concerned and saddened over celebrity Christianity, which seems to come mostly (sad to say) from my USA homeland. Perhaps because I haven’t lived there in so long (28 years precisely), it seems off-kilter to me. And lately, Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians keeps running through my mind.

And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.

But what is celebrity Christianity? In my opinion, it is the concept, spoken or unspoken, which has crept into the church that success is what our walk with Christ is all about. That the best pastors have the largest congregations, the biggest church buildings, TV shows, or podcasts. That the greatest Bible teachers have multiple best-sellers or speaking engagements lined up for months. And bloggers, well the best bloggers obviously have the most followers and published works, and offer the most unique resources.

And even church members are not exempt. Lead a quiet life? But a real disciple must make their life count by being missional. By sharing Christ non-stop, or by moving to a needy area to do some great service, or by building a spectacular career. By doing something unique and special, something that stands out.

But where in Scripture do we find such concepts?

Yes, we are here to make our lives count. (Otherwise, wouldn’t it have been better for Christ to just take us directly to heaven?) But can’t one’s life count in simple, quiet ways, as well? Can’t we do our good deeds in secret? Can’t we share Christ in little, and even silent, hidden ways?

Christ didn’t seek crowds. He taught them, but because crowds sought him out. Not because he chased after fame or numbers. He often sought out the desert places, and the forgotten, neglected people. He viewed powerful leaders and little children as equals. And he saw the poor widow with her two coins as greater than the wealthy who gave little.

Christ did his greatest work among the few.

He chose only 12 to become his apostles, his closest companions and collaborators. But those 12 turned the world upside down.

Only a few ordinary women supported his ministry and saw to his needs. But those few displayed great courage and loyalty in staying by the cross, following their Master to the end.

He reached out to the Samaritan woman, to the lepers, and other outcasts of society. And such nearly unseen sacrificial love and care has brought hope and encouragement to millions around the world.

He was willing to stop and heal just one, he calmed storms for the few, saved his deepest teaching for his closest companions.

The man who held crowds spellbound and fed the thousands, always saw the individual. Always cared for the one he had in front of him. He came to do great things — but he knew that great things are really just little things put together. And he knew that the greatest things are always done for the glory of the Father.

And because Christ’s call was to greatness, he knew he had to seek out the quiet life. We find him often going off alone to pray and be his Father. We hear him urging his disciples to, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while,” Mark 6:31.

God also calls us to greatness. But not because he wants us to great and mighty things. Not because he wants us to have success or a great ministry.

Our greatness, as Christians, is found in showing Christ’s greatness.

And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.

Most of those whom God called were living quietly, minding their own affairs, doing their own duty. Starting with Abraham, Moses, and the Old Testament prophets, down to the apostles and all the other disciples. They were just living their lives, doing their jobs.

And that is often how God’s call comes. For I would put to you that if we are busy trying to build our own ministry, or trying to become a success, then perhaps all we’ve done is answer our own call.

Christ does not call us to build ourselves up, but to build him up. To show his greatness.

And God’s highest call comes to those who willing to embrace obscurity. To be unseen, unproclaimed, forgotten. Those willing to live quietly and mind their own affairs — while seeking to let Christ shine through.

For Christ’s greatness is best displayed through the disciple willing to embrace obscurity.

[Images ©TheScorziellos]

24 thoughts on “God’s Call to Obscurity

  1. Great post! It is really all about God and others. When we put Him and His kingdom first, He will take care of us. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. This post really spoke to me. As a “pleaser” I always feel that I should be doing bigger and better things for God. And as an insecure person, I am also looking for recognition for the things that I have done. I am learning to really live in the quiet life I have and to be a blessing in my small circle. I wish that I could do more but I am learning to be content and peaceful with what I am able to do. For now, it is important for me to be a blessing to my husband, my mother, and my sons and their families. Anything else I accomplish for God is a bonus.

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    1. Shari, I’m pretty sure we all struggle to some degree with pleasing others, and with our own insecurities. And contentment in quietness is not easy in our hectic world, but if we please God that’s all that really matters, isn’t it? I pray the Lord may help us both be content in the quiet place he has us in for now. All else really is a bonus!

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  3. You speak considerable truth here, my friend! It is a western success model it seems and it can start subtly and then become something like the plant in the play “Little Shop of Horrors” that keeps saying “Feed me!”

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    1. Thanks Pam, it’s all too true the west is obsessed with “success”. But it’s also true, as you bring out, that it often starts so subtly. I never heard of that play “Little Shop of Horrors”. It sounds intriguing, but also maybe a bit scary. But I’m thinking that your correlation between it and success really brings out the root problem. Our quest for success does demand feeding, just like our ego. I guess they’re really one and the same. Thanks for sharing that!

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      1. In the play, a mysterious plant appears in a flower shop during a total eclipse and feeds only on human flesh and blood. The plant named Audrey II brings a great deal of business into the struggling shop and throughout the play it speaks these words “feed me” and is never satisfied. (Yes, it can be a bit scary, but exposes some powerful metaphors of truth.)

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      2. Oh my, I guess it’s not for me. I don’t usually do scary too well, lol! When I first started reading The Hobbit, I stopped because the orcs were too scary, but a friend encouraged me to keep going. Glad I did. I then watched the movies, and those orcs weren’t at all scary. The ones my mind created were much worse, and now I’m a die-hard middle earther!! Still, I think I’ll skip the man-eating plants, even though it does sound interesting!!

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      3. Let’s just say that it wasn’t a favorite play of mine. I think I went as a guest of someone else and it had a lot of bizarre humor in it. I have not read The Hobbit, but my husband and I LOVE The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Narnia series as well. We watch both series once a year and have the extended version of The Lord of the Rings set.

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      4. Us too, but we prefer the old BBC version of the Narnia series. Not great on special effects, but more faithful to the books. Sounds like we have a lot in common, Pam!

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  4. This is a great post. Celebrity Christianity is a good way of putting it. It certainly is part of the christian subculture in North America.
    I loved this challenge to me personally. It is okay to live in obscurity, being faithful in each small thing the Lord gives us. Seeking His approval, and not mans.
    Thanks for the challenge. I’d love to share this via Pinterest and FB.

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    1. Thank you for that encouragement, Paula! Believe me, it’s a challenge to myself as well. It’s so easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing. And because everyone is doing it, it seems normal and right – and we don’t take time to question it. You are so right – we need to seek GOD’s approval, not man’s!! It would honor me should you choose to share this post on social media. Pin away!!

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