Contemplatives and Activists

There’s been a lot of talk about contemplatives (and also controversy). Mark Driscoll has made some very astute observations about contemplatives and activists. There may be more somewhere out there in the blogosphere, but these two posts on that subject are the first I’ve seen.  I found that I was 50% contemplative and 50% activist. Does that mean I’m well balanced or just confused? –JB 

To become skilled at something requires discipline.
What good musicians, athletes, and Christians share in common is discipline, which, interestingly enough, shares the same root word as disciple. Therefore, to be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to be a person who lives a disciplined lifestyle patterned after the example of Jesus by the enabling of the same Holy Spirit that empowered Him.

The Spiritual Disciplines
The spiritual disciplines are varying ways that God works in our lives to mold us to be continually more like Jesus. In this series, I will be examining two spiritual disciplines each month, in hopes of teaching you how they are practiced and aiding you in becoming increasingly disciplined. Being spiritually disciplined is not the pursuit of some mythical balance. Rather, as Ecclesiastes says, there are times and seasons in life; our spiritual life will need to be constantly adjusted to best serve our soul in these various seasons. Therefore, the key to living a spiritually disciplined life is living in tension because that is exactly what the spiritual disciplines create.

Contemplative and Active
The tension of the spiritual disciplines comes from the fact that they fall into two broad and general categories: contemplative and active. There are many ways to simplify this distinction. The contemplative disciplines are about being, whereas the active disciplines are about doing. The contemplative spiritual disciplines help us to slow down and connect with God, whereas the active disciplines compel us to be busy and connect with others. The contemplative disciplines focus on the world of ideas, whereas the active disciplines focus on the world of projects.

Contemplatives are energized by quiet, rest, solitude, and Sabbath.
Activists are energized by noise, projects, community, and chaos.
Contemplatives are attuned to what is happening in them.
Activists are attuned to what is happening around them.

Which Are You?
The key is to discover whether you are more naturally a contemplative or an activist and then work on your area of weakness. In my years as a pastor I have found that most of us lean heavily toward the contemplative or the active disciplines at the expense of the other. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for people to read about Jesus in their Bible and only see His contemplative or activist scenes at the expense of seeing the healthy tension that Jesus lived in. As a result, when a contemplative thinks of Jesus they are prone to imagine Him sitting alone in the wilderness and silently reading Scripture and praying. Conversely, when an activist thinks of Jesus they are prone to imagine Him performing miracles, preaching, and casting out demons, never sitting down or taking a day off. The truth is that Jesus practiced every contemplative discipline and every active discipline (with the exception of lovemaking). To follow in His example means we must follow in His entire example.

Active Disciplines

Contemplative Disciplines


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