Lost Sayings of the Jedi Christian 5

The Contemplative Activist

Today’s Christian world is dominated by activists without thought and thinkers without action. The unlinking of contemplation and action has marginalized the impact of contemplative and the activist alike. Jesus certainly withdrew for times of solitude, but only in preparation for a return to action. His every day was a rhythmic interplay between solitude and active immersion in the stuff of the world. His day began with an early rising to pray and meditate, followed by a wading into the muck of it all. His ability to discern and do the Father’s will was directly related to his private time with the Father, and action was always in His Father’s will; but for Jesus, as it is with us, the question was always which action, not whether to take action.


The contemplative is driven to gain insights and to know more. But there comes a time when insight needs application. As Brennan Manning’s spiritual director once said to him: “Brennan, you don’t need any more insights into the faith. You’ve got enough insights to last you three hundred years. The most urgent need in your life is to trust what you have received.” When we delay action until we gain full understanding, we become entrapped in an immobilizing comfort zone. Rather then wait to understand more, the Jedi Christian heads out armed with the knowledge possessed and fully aware that there is more to learn. When Jesus first sent the disciples out in twos they were ill equipped and only moderately prepared for the spiritual encounters they faced. Yet with God’s help they survived the first tour of duty on the front lines and returned with a clear sense of what they needed to learn and highly motivated to learn it!


Yet mystical union with God is the foundation of all God-guided activity and in this hour, kingdom work is often entrusted to the ambitious, energetic and talented with only the shallowest of experience with God. Karl Rahner rightly predicted that “in the days ahead you will be a mystic who has experienced God, or nothing at all.” I fear it is true that activists without a deep, mystical encounter with God are the spiritual equivalent of nothing at all and their work, though superficially successful, will ultimately amount to nothing at all.

Alone again, unnaturally.

The essential mystical union with God is available to all and it requires a solitude uncommon today. Yet, as Thomas Merton said, “as soon as you are really alone, you are with God.” So how to be alone, when society’s pace, life’s demands and our own socially driven impulse push us towards others? In “Way of the Heart “Henri Nouwen wrestled with the problem and concluded, “precisely because our secular milieu offers us so few spiritual disciplines, we have to develop our own. We have to, indeed, fashion our own desert where we can withdraw every day, shake off our compulsions, and dwell in the gentle healing presence of our Lord.”

Posted in Staublog, Thoughts in November 18, 2002 by | No Comments »

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

93 − 83 =

More from Staublog