The traits were the following*:
1. They incorporated what they believed into their daily grind.
2. They bumped up the quality of their spiritual experience.
3. They had a passion for effective action.
4. They labored for personal, ecclesiastical and national reform.
* These points were originally taken from J.I. Packer and then mangled by me.
Points one and two were previously discussed, and I’d like to focus on point three: a passion for effective action.
Wherever and whenever Christians forcefully delivered a holy spiritual punch to the demonic gut and brought life, light and liberty to people and places, it was because they had dreams without being dreamy. They had a practical faith that worked in the mud . . . a faith that was not nebulous, vapid, ridiculous or insipid. They were people who were supernaturally natural, who did not forego working in this world to be caught up in the world to come. You know the type: the eye-fluttering, angel-seeing, super-spiritual religious caricature who is so heavenly minded that he is no earthly good; the sort who dreams about how he would rather be in heaven while he tints his windows against the headaches here on the earth. Yes, the Christians who have altered the planet for the glory of God had both a positive, Bible-based vision of what could and should be and a resolute will to get their butts in gear to do that which should be done.
When Christianity has been a contender within its culture, the Church has had low tolerance for the lazy, passive, airy and indecisive disciple who thinks it's not his job to change the world. Savory Christian cultural architects actually believed God's will should be done on earth as it is in heaven, and thus clipped along at an energetic pace, establishing Christ's view of justice, mercy and righteousness.
Today, too much of the Church can be characterized as pessimistic and passive, always willing to believe the worst as long as it takes as little energy as possible. The beliefs that societal wrongs cannot be corrected because the world is supposed to slide into an anti-Christ-run keg party, or that the job doesn't belong to the laity but to the clergy, have left tens of thousands of believers about as active in the world as Howard Hughes was during flu season.
I think the Church's current pessimism toward Biblical change has led to a sluggishness that makes a sloth look like a worker bee. And the kicker is that sloth/passivity/laziness flies today, (mostly uncondemned) under the banner of a venial sin, and is not seen as it has historically been seen as the complicit vice and partner of evil.
And because Christian inactivity doesn't make the evening news like an extramarital affair, avarice or anger would, sloth and passivity are seen as less egregious and are even pitched by the secular media as the right things for Christians to do since we should be, supposedly, separated from the affairs of the state.
Well, even though grass-munching, bovine lethargy might go down in our current scat-laden Laodicean culture, it does not, has not and will not fly with our concerned Creator. God sees inactivity as criminal and a deadly sin when we do not lift our voice or our hand to help in the time of need especially in the face of injustice when the situation demands that the Church gets up off its Lays-enlarged glutes and does something.
In contrast to the indolent and gloomy quasi-religious crowd, the salvific saints of souls and society have always been set apart by the hope and heat they carry within that manifests in good works without. They know that time is on their side and that their efforts are not going to go unnoticed and ineffectively down the crapper.
Thus, they are, as J.I. Packer said, "crusading activists without a jot of self-reliance; workers of God who depend utterly on God to work in and through them and who always give God the praise for anything they do that in retrospect seems to them to have been right; gifted men who prayed earnestly that God would enable them to use their powers, not for self display, but for his praise [They were people] who made strong prayers privately before tackling any matter of importance."
These transformers were not known for singing kum-ba-yah for too long. They did not wrap themselves in warm, gurgling bubbles of a feel-good hot-tub religion when the situation screamed for activity. They understood that when insanity seems sane and unfaithfulness appears okey dokey, to settle for business-as-usual Christianity would be a slap in God's face and an act of hatred toward their fellow man. Yes, they were men and women who had a passion for effective action.
Would that describe you?
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