I have a few blog posts in my head. I would like to write a post on faith in which I contrast the faith as believes and faith for daily power. I am finding that the need for a continual awareness of our need for daily power, we are not ever going to walk in the kingdom. I also would like to write a post on heroic effort and the need for a sense of duty. In our generation, the idea of doing something out of duty is frowned upon but it is exactly this sense of duty to our God which motivates the effort and perseverance necessary to solve the difficult problems that face the church in or generation. This idea of great effort and great work, a renewal of a Christian work ethic for the sake of Christ, is much needed in this unstructured and undisciplined era we find ourselves in.
So which to write on.
I think I will write today on the need for strenuous work in our spiritual life.
One of my heroes is Albert Einstein. It is said of Albert Einstein that he thought of the same question for ten years. His mind was completely taken with a problem that he understood was essential to solve if we are to understand the mechanics of the universe on the scales of the infinite and the infinitesimal. Einstein suffered from exhaustion and seasons of depression during this period from the strenuous work of problem solving he endured. The product of his effort is one of the greatest intellectual feats in human history.
Another example of strenuous work in problem solving is the founding fathers. The founding fathers all worked in the service of the nation until their health would demand that they take a leave of absence. The result is the creation of a government based on the rule of law and a system of checks and balances that is the envy of the world. These pinnacles of human achievement are generated in the crucible of strenuous work. Anyone who has labored in the creative process understands this experience of inspiration and confidence and discouragement and depression. Problems like those facing the church today will not be solved without the enduring of a similar process of creativity.
For me, I am awed by the talent and expertise of great musicians. For this reason, I have great affection for the music and the passion of the work of John Coltrane. Such strenuous work produces dignity and honors God.
In our generation, many seem to feel that hard work and spirituality are contradictory approaches to life, but nothing can be further from the truth. Paul the Apostle said, “I worked harder than anyone else, but not I but the grace of God working in me”. Paul knew the experience of laboring in contemplation and the grace of inspiration that is the product of this co-laboring with the Spirit of the Almighty.
Today we face a great challenge. We live in an era when we have lost our understanding of how to walk in the character of God and how to teach others to walk in this way. We are called to re-build these age old foundations. This re-discovery of the way of discipleship will not just come upon us as we live in relaxed, “organic” conversation. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of princes to seek it out. God does not share His secrets easily but instead we are to seek wisdom like the greedy seek for gold. Such seeking and problem solving will take strenuous work.
One of the reasons I have not been blogging as much lately is the result of the strenuous work of the past few years. Being a bi-vocational pastor for the past three years took a toll on my health. In the back of my mind, I have not been willing to pursue such strenuous work again. We pursue such work out of faith. True faith in the promises of God motivates strenuous work and lately I have not had much faith.
True faith motivates great achievement and strenuous work. This is a good barometer for our faith. If we are not working like Paul but spend our time in leisure, then we do not have kingdom faith for the building of the kingdom on earth in the power of Jesus Christ. Faith causes one to rise up and pursue the promised land by faith. This pursuit is strenuous work.
Some of the Question that Need the Strenuous Work of Problem Solving
The strenuous work I am speaking of for myself is primarily contemplation and reflection upon the work that are doing in our faith community. Some of the difficult questions we face include:
1. How do we find the power of the presence of God in our every day life over our inherent self-centeredness and character defects?
2. How do we make disciples that really know and practice the principles of Jesus?
3. How do we teach a life of worship and prayer in such a busy culture?
4. How do we mobilize the church for mission?
5. How can we build a community that socializes the new believer into the principles of the kingdom?
The answer to these questions is hidden from us in our present time BUT we are called to discover these answers. This is our labor and our life and to build communities that live in the solutions to these problems and challenges will take strenuous work..
The discoveries that we will make along the way, as we contemplate discipleship and the way to renewal for Christ’s church, will be our most valued possessions. We will think Christ’s thoughts after Him. We will be wise. This too will take strenuous work.
Such a view of the need for human effort and even strenuous exhausting effort in the search for truth informs the manner in which we raise our children. I find many parents who do not teach this level of discipline to their children. Instead, we coddle our children. We do not challenge them in the sciences to think deeply and to wrestle with difficult questions.
This ethic of strenuous work is a high value in our home and I believe needs to be embraced in the church if we are to discover the wisdom needed to change the church and the world around us.