Saturday, August 06, 2011

Contemplative Christians/Activist Christians

This dichotomy has come to my attention lately. I knew it was there, but I've been challenged by it recently. As a loved one and I struggled to understand each other as we spoke of Kingdom things, I seemed to the activist and she the contemplative.

In Romans 15:18, Paul writes:

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done . . .

John Stott comments that when Paul writes "by what I have said and done" he means, literally "by word and deed." Stott goes on:

This combination of words and works, the verbal and the visual, is a recognition that human beings often learn more through their eyes than through their ears. Words explain works, but works dramatize words. The public ministry of Jesus is the best example of this, and after his ascension into heaven he continued "to do and to teach" through his apostles. [footnote Acts 1:1] One of Jesus' most powerful visual aids was to take a child into his arms, and one of the early church's was their common life and care for the needy.

-Stott, The Message of Romans: God's Good News for the World, pp. 380-381.

As I consider my contemplative friend's Christian life, what strikes me is her Christlike activism, her good works. I can also see that her activism takes its toll on her. But I also see that her activist life drives her to return to contemplative moments with Christ. She is on both sides of that divide after all, and each side of the contemplative/activist dichotomy nourishes both her and, through her, the objects of her love.

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