by Bob Broadbooks
He was jogging near my house. He appeared to have all the right equipment: shorts, t-shirt, tennis shoes, and a hat. His intent was obviously to improve his health. What I found odd was that he smoked a cigarette while he ran. It was true irony. He existed somewhere between his aspirations and his actualities. Inside, he desired to improve himself and to be truly healthy, but his outside habit limited the success of his endeavor.
The truly effective people I have known have discovered how to bring these two dimensions of their lives into attunement. They have known that their interior and exterior lives must align. Sometimes in the church we see folks who concentrate on the internal segments of their Christian faith while ignoring the outward exhibitions of their faith. Others of us do the opposite. While not exactly being like the picture of the smoking jogger, a Christian’s life can still easily get out of alignment.
Jesus’ desire for us is a healthy mix of abiding and bearing. He says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, RSV).
Elton Trueblood addressed this when he wrote, “The polarization of our time, which produces half men who could be whole men, may be made vivid by reference to both the roots and the fruits of the Christian Faith. The pietist is one who stresses chiefly the roots; the activist is one who stresses chiefly the fruits.
Service without devotion is rootless; devotion without service is fruitless. The necessity of stressing each of these without at the same time neglecting the other is abundantly clear in the recorded teaching of Christ Himself. The pietist needs action and the activist needs piety. Each is a half man, made such by an unnecessary act of selflimitation and consequent impoverishment. The best leaders are both service-centered and Christ centered.”*
My prayer is that we will pursue both of these with all our being. Let’s recommit ourselves to growing deeply in Christ and giving widely to this beautiful world He created.
*Elton Trueblood. The New Man for Our Time (New York: Harper & Row, 1970), 25.