Okay, so, here’s one of the most confusing things ever: are we supposed to work hard as believers, or do we just totally trust in God and wait to see what He will do? I’ve heard sermons tell me to do both, and even worse I’ve been to church growth conferences where one expert says our churches aren’t making the grade because we’re lazy, good for-nothings and then the very next guy says we’re faithless idiots because we try to do it all ourselves.
I feel like I did in Jr. High when mom told me to turn the other cheek toward that smart-mouthed kid who said my hair was dorky while my step-dad cut me off a piece of pipe to put in my bag to use as, let’s just say, leverage…hmmm.
By the way, I did have to beat the snot out of that kid. And, looking back, my hair was dorky. Sorry dude.
So, what’s right? Work hard, or wait on the Lord? (Are you ready for the most dissatisfying answer ever?)
Both… the answer is both. I mean it has to be both. Moses said, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Ex 14:14), but Paul said ” Fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Tim 6:12). In all this back and forth confusion theres a good joke about marriage, but since I want to stay married, I’ll keep it to myself.
Before you even begin to post your replies, no, this is not a cop out. It’s a well thought out, theologically deep, life-altering concept that I discovered right here at Burger King (Whoppers truly inspire me).
Lets use these last words of Jesus as a launching pad for this
4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized witha water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Notice all the passive verbs in this passage:
Do not leave…
You will be baptized…
You will receive…
You will be my…
It seems like being a good disciple means doing nothing. Just hang out and see what God will do. I mean you should grab a bucket of popcorn and find a good seat because Armageddon is gonna be a great show!!!
But, when you read the rest of the book of Acts it’s anything but passive. They went everywhere, the preformed miracles, they got beat up, the broke out of jail (and in some cases stayed in the cell on purpose), they were explosive in their words and deeds. So what’s the deal, were they disobedient or right on target?
I think God calls His people to be passively aggressive, and I am not talking about that dysfunctional way teenagers talk to their parents.
Since most of us are binary (you know, on or off) we are “either or” kind of people and not usually “both and”. But, the latter is what God requires us to be.
We must passively wait, receive and become at His hand. We have to become skilled at doing nothing so that He can do everything within us. We do not have what it takes to become what He wants us to be. It is truly by grace alone that we are transformed and prepared for works of service.
Then, we must actively move, pray, strive and impact the world around us. Biblical words like fight, run, box, endure, persevere, and oh I don’t know, carry your cross definitely show God’s people who do stuff.
It would be easy to use a metaphor like we’re cars that must be filled up with the fuel of God or we’ll never make it down the road of life. But, first of all, that’s incredibly cheesy and therefore I would never endorse that metaphor (bad blogger, bad blogger!). Second, it’s overly simplistic.
The reality is that we are to passively wait on the Lord, but then actively jump into His obedience. We are to move into the mission actively, but respond by the power of God’s spirit as we passively submit to Him.
The truth is, we move in life possessed by the Spirit of God so that we simultaneously make active decisions to follow, serve and fight in the Name of the Lord. All the while we are passively submitting, listening and bowing to the Name of the Lord.
It’s not just waiting on the Lord, and it’s not just doing something. To be a follower of Christ requires that we live a passively aggressive life in which we press forward into enemy territory while we bow on our knees in worship.
It’s here at this juncture that I think we most clearly see that we truly are spiritual beings living in a physical world. We live in two worlds, so living two lives of passive aggressiveness should be no shock.
May God help you to know when to listen and when to move. And, may you have the courage to step when He says the moment has come.