Action? Or Stillness?

Elijah smote2 flattenedI was having my morning devotions time and one of the things I read was from “Streams in the Desert” about stillness. The thought was how that it isn’t in all our efforts or straining that God’s will is accomplished but in being still.

So I really thought about that. Like so many things, there’s a lot of truth there. At the same time, there’s plenty of room also for coming to the wrong conclusion.

Of course it’s all very true: our own feverish efforts in our own spirit to accomplish God’s will is not what’s needed or what God wants. But on the other hand, if someone comes to the conclusion that His highest and best is to attain some monastic asceticism, then they really haven’t got the picture of what God is and what He wants. God is a moving God. He’s always changing, moving, flowing and affecting change in every sphere of His creation.

Jesus didn’t command His disciples in His last day on earth, “Go off into the desert, run from the devil and perfect your own holiness.” Nope. He told them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)

Active or Stillness flattenedHoliness is great. But what is it? Sitting around in mediation and stillness all day? There’s certainly, definitely a time and a need for meditation, stillness and coming into the presence of the Lord; we all desperately need that.

But then what? Well, a verse that’s always pierced my heart is “Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, so shall you be My disciple.” (John 15:8) And of course some people don’t even know what the Lord is talking about there. Some people think Jesus is talking about “the fruit of the Spirit” that Paul talked about: love, joy, peace and things like that. Well in this case, Jesus was not talking about the fruit of the Spirit. He was talking about being fruitful the same way a tree is fruitful or a man and a woman are fruitful.

Apples are the fruit of an apple tree and other Christians are the fruit of a Christian. Did they tell you that in your church? Did you know that we are supposed to bear fruit in the form of other people that we bring to the Lord? And if we’re going to do that, then we aren’t going to be sitting around all day in stoic stillness, solitude and mediation.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m certainly not disagreeing with the admonition to get quiet before the Lord and to seek His face. It’s part of my life daily and I don’t do so well if I don’t have that time. Even Jesus had to get up before dawn and go out in nature and get alone with His Father, it says so in the Bible. “And Jesus, rising up a great while before dawn, went out into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35) But He didn’t stay there all day. He was back with people, “going about everywhere, doing good“. (Acts 10:38)

Hurry-or-prayerI guess it’s like the verse that to me really covers a lot of things. “These ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”  (Matthew 23:23) Stillness? Quietness? Mediation? Sure. But then we are to come down off our mountain and to be about our Father’s business. And we will carry that serenity, that power and that blessing with us because we will be so full of Him, His love and His compassion for the lost that it won’t be self effort and our frantic frenzy in the flesh. It will be His Spirit in us, causing us to do the humanly impossible.

Paul said one time, “But by the grace of God I am what I am. And his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain. But I labored more abundantly than they all. Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (I Corinthians 15:10) Paul said that he labored more than they all, but that it was still all only God’s grace.

If you are really coming before the Lord and receiving from Him, it will activated you and motivate you. Karl Marx said, “Religion is the opium of the people.” But true and real Christianity is anything but sleep inducing. Jesus wasn’t crucified for putting people into a drugged stupor.

So Lord help us all to “not leave the other undone”, to not overdo it in the direction of mediation and stillness, or to be so fervent in the direction of Christian action and our efforts to sow the seeds of His word and to win souls that we run outside His will and His power. “There’s a time for every purpose under heaven“. (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Lord help us to know when to do what.

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