Whole Life Faith

The following quotes are taken from last week’s selection in A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants:

Because we cannot reasonably expect to erect a constantly expanding structure of social activism upon a constantly diminishing foundation of faith, attention to the cultivation of the inner life is our first order of business, even in a period of rapid social change.  The Church, if it is to affect the world, must become a center from which new spiritual power emanates.  While the Church must be secular in the sense that it operates in the world, if it is only secular it will not have the desired effect upon the secular order which it is called upon to penetrate.  With no diminution of concern for people, we can and must give new attention to the production of a trustworthy religious experience.

From The New Man for Our Time by Elton Trueblood

John Woolman is worth remembering because, more than most Christians, he kept his inner and outer life together.  In the happy expression employed by Elizabeth O’Connor, this man of travel engaged, at the same time, in both an inward and an outward journey.  The inward journey was marked by an unusual sense of holy obedience.  “I have been more and more instructed,” he wrote near the end, “as to the necessity of depending, . . . upon the fresh instructions of Christ, the prince of peace, from day to day.”  The outward journey was marked by an increasing sensitivity to suffering and to an intelligent effort to eliminate as much of this suffering as is humanly possible.

What is most remarkable in Woolman’s potent example is the complete bridging of the chasm that so mars our current Christian scene.  his devotional experience and his social concern, far from being in conflict, actually required each other.  He was acutely conscious of the danger of a social witness that could have become hard and cruel in its denunciation of others.  “Christ knoweth,” he said, “when the fruit-bearing branches themselves have need of purging.”

– From The New Man for Our time by Elton Trueblood

For a spiritual life is simply a life in which all that we do comes from the centre, where we are anchored in God: a life soaked through and through by a sense of his reality and claim, and self-given to the great movement of his will.

Most of our conflicts and difficulties come from trying to deal with the spiritual and practical aspects of our life separately instead of realizing them as parts of one whole.  If our practical life is centered on our own interests, cluttered up by possessions, distracted by ambitions, passions, wants and worries, beset by a sense of our own rights and importance, or anxieties for our own future, or longings for our own success, we need not expect that our spiritual life will be a contrast to all this.  The soul’s house is not built on such a convenient plan: there are few soundproof partitions in it.

From The Spiritual Life by Evelyn Underhill