One of the great sections of Gary Thomas' book, Seeking the Face of God, has to do with “entering the quiet.” This refers to disciplines which believers must learn in order to keep their souls quiet before God. Such disciplines keep the noise and detractions around us out of our souls, or to say it another way, they mitigate the distractions which often lure our souls away from a moment by moment, personal, and intimate commune with God.
Thomas gives us four disciplines to achieve this end. One of these, I have always felt intuitively to be true, but Thomas was the first to put it in such well thought out words. Better yet, he takes us back to the “ancients” (the church fathers through the years) who practiced this discipline. The one that I am thinking of is what Thomas calls “the discipline of a limited curiosity.”
According to Thomas, the simplicity that comes through a limited curiosity frees us from being “tabloid Christians.” This refers to a tendency we see on the national level, but unfortunately it exists even in the church. Whenever we hear of a scandal, or we “smell blood,” we usually want all the details. In the church there is the view by some, usually legalists, who feel an entitlement to know all the gory details of someone’s scandal or shattered life. As Thomas puts it so well, in this we become “spiritual peeping Toms.” As believers, we try to camouflage it with prayerful concern or feigned love, but often, as Thomas notes, we just want to satisfy our own spiritual and carnal lusts.
Thomas Kempis wrote, “How can he abide long in peace, who thrusts himself into the cares of others…who seldom concentrates on his own thoughts? Blessed are the single-hearted: for they shall enjoy much peace.” Gary Thomas states:
We have to realize we don't need to know all that we want to know. We need to cultivate the discipline of letting go of cares that don't concern us. We need to trust God and those He has placed in leadership. If someone is not accountable to us, we don't need to know the details. Our responsibility is not to figure out everything but to keep ourselves at peace.
Again, another great quote from Kempis: “My son, be not curious, nor trouble thyself with idle cares.”
“Curiosity kills our souls,” declares Thomas. “When we dive unnecessarily and uninvited into the lives of others, we lose our own inner grounding.” Another great one, Climacus, urged, “Stay away from what does not concern you for curiosity can defile stillness as nothing else can.”
As believers, we are not called or even entitled to be judge, prosecuting attorney, and jury for everything that is going on around us. We are called to have a healthy limited curiosity that allows the whisper of God’s voice to be heard in the chamber of our soul without distraction or competition. The next time you are tempted to be a “tabloid Christian” or a “spiritual peeping Tom” ask yourself the questions, do I really need to know this? Is this really any of my business, spiritually speaking? And, oh…don’t forget, except for the grace of God so goes you!