by Matthew W. Bassford
Let us exalt the quiet people. Let us consider and honor them. They are nothing in the sight of the world and too often nothing in the sight of their brethren, but they are choice and precious in the sight of God.
Every congregation has them. They assemble faithfully each Lord's Day, but they are rarely conspicuous in the assembly. Many of them are women, who have no public role in church at all. They are, in a word, quiet. I Thessalonians 4:11 is their verse.
When they are not assembled, they quietly do good. They look in on people and look after people: their families, their brethren, and their neighbors. Year after year, decade after decade, they patiently serve others. They desire neither recognition nor reward. It would not occur to any of them that they are anything special. They believe that anyone in their situation would do as they have done, even though this is not actually true.
I am not one of the quiet people. I never have been. By the grace of God, I am a writer, and like all gifted writers, I have a unique authorial voice. People with voices are not quiet. Nonetheless, the quiet people have always been my brethren and my friends. In addition to their other virtues, they are generally supportive of preachers.
Since my diagnosis, though, my relationship with the quiet people has changed. Now I have been added to the list of those for whom they care. In person, they look after me and mine. They might take the kids for a day, mow the lawn, or bring a meal by.
When distant from me, they continue to care as best they can. They pray. They leave supportive comments on Facebook. They send cards. They send money. Others might put their money where their mouth is; the quiet people put their money where their hearts are.
At times, I feel embarrassed by and guilty about their generosity. Both of these feelings are temptations and lies. Instead, I must rejoice in the wisdom of the generous. They have chosen to lay up treasure in heaven, to trust in the ancient promise that God will care for those who care for others.
We often say that the church is people. I will go one step further. The church is the quiet people. The preachers and teachers may be noisier, but they are not nearly so numerous. Mostly, the Restoration project has produced the quiet people. The work of the Holy Spirit in creating them cannot be denied.
For this reason, it makes me angry when I see “the Church of Christ” attacked online. Allegedly, “we” are legalistic, hardhearted, emotionless, unloving, etc. Because the quiet people are the church, this is an attack on them.
Frankly, I think the real issue is that the quiet people have a public relations problem. They do not sound a trumpet before them as they go to do good, so church critics leap to the conclusion that no good is being done. It is shockingly imperceptive and unfair.
Let us celebrate the quiet people instead. Let us celebrate the cleansed and sanctified church in which they congregate. God does, and who are we to judge more harshly than He?