How in the world can the church serve in “Godly quietness?”

July 13, 2012

This week’s collect (scroll down) is a personal favorite. It calls on the Lord to peaceably order the world so that the church may serve him in “Godly quietness.” My goodness! What a lovely and sentimental thought. I wonder if it means anything.

The language of the King James Bible is embedded in the text of traditional versions of the Book of Common Prayer. The phrase “Godly quietness” is not used in the KJV, nor the NASB, which uses more and more diverse textual sources than those available in 1611. Nonetheless, the association of quiet, peace, and the presence of God is well represented in the Biblical text.Let’s consider the concept of “Godly quietness.”

(NOTE: this blog typically cites from the English Standard Version; however, the NASB study materials are more available to the diligent Bible reader.)

The best “on point” passage is 1 Thes 4:7 in which Paul reminds believers to live a quiet life, “mind your own business, work with your hands.” That is a beginning. Generally speaking the language in similar usages has to do with keeping silence or resting. That’s all very good, but how do we square this with the Great Commission. You cannot very easily teach the world everything Jesus commands without saying a word. Or, can you?

Whitfield of Wesley would not be comfortable keeping quiet, and the church simply has to announce the good news. Otherwise, everybody close the doors and go home. That necessary declaration of God’s good intentions for mankind can mean the public reading of Scripture (something Anglicans are well known for) or preaching. But there is a certain wisdom connected with how we declare and receive the Gospel.

When the Lord was rebuking Israel for its oppressions and refusal to even allow the preaching of God’s word, he promises to break them in an instant (Is 30:13). How should they have understood the situation and the warnings?

For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling, (Isaiah 30:15, ESV)

Everybody has an opinion. Everybody has a bit of their own personal wisdom that simply has to be brought into any discussion of anything even remotely spiritual or “churchy.” Maybe, if the pot gets sufficiently stirred, there might even be a little spark of controversy, some divisions, or even a split-up. All the demons in hell are high-fiving when personal opinions abound.

The idea of Godly quietness has to do with how we hear God’s word written, and how we live it out. This Collect is especially calling us to unity in the Body of Christ. Liturgical silence is little practiced and much needed. Modern Americans can hardly tolerate absolute calm. It would be a blessed thing to hear the readings and then to reflect without distraction.That would be tough, but it would be a type of sacramental experience representing how we should accept the Scriptures in the heart. A humble Godly congregation thinks on the word written and considers how it might be applied.


One Response to “How in the world can the church serve in “Godly quietness?””

  1. Well said! I note that Psalm 131 speaks a word to us on this matter…

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