Active Passivity and Growth

As I continue my study of 1 Corinthians 3 and how God brings growth and how we build the church from the foundation of Christ, I am struck by the tension of our labor and God’s gift of growth.

Francis Schaeffer called the work we do “active passivity.” We press on, believing the promise of God to give growth. This is the way for the individual and for the church as a body.

One college professor summarizes Schaeffer’s perspective given in his book True Spirituality:

“If we are to bring forth fruit in the Christian life, or rather, if Christ is to bring forth this fruit through us by the agency of the Holy Spirit, there must be a constant act of faith, of thinking:  “Upon the basis of Your promises I am looking for You to fulfill them, Lord Jesus – bring forth Your fruit through me into this poor world to Your praise” (note carefully that it is the presence of God in your life that is making your actions efficacious and fruitful – you are called to obey believing, and God brings forth the fruit).  That is what Schaeffer means by “active passivity.”  Thus true spirituality is not achieved in your own energy.  The “how” of the Christian life (true spirituality) is stated in Romans 6:11 – “Consider yourself  to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (that is the faith perspective; the foundational consid-eration for your entire life).  This is the “how” – there is no other.  The Christian life is not just a matter   of right actions (irrespective of faith), it is a matter of humble submission to will of God with a proper heart perspective (faith), knowing that His Spirit is doing a special work in and through your life in that particular moment – it is the power of the risen Christ, through the agency of the Holy Spirit. . . by faith.  You must have confident assurance in the moment that “God is at work in you to will and do His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13; Heb 11:1) – the faith you exercise one moment doesn’t get credited to the actions you take the next moment; you must consciously exercise faith at all times.  Again reflect upon the words of Paul to the Galatians – “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal 2:20).  So, fruit-bearing Christians “live by faith,” that the “power of God might live in them” in the person of the Holy Spirit – when we live by faith, God is involved in the work.  It is then that the believer can say with Paul, “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” (45-59)”

Article here.

Oh the implications of a life of active passivity!


What joy we are experiencing in bonding with our little girl. She is so sweet, loves to giggle and keeps checking to see if we are still here! There will be challenges physically for her but she seems so willing and capable to face them with us. We truly love her. 

Today I am reflecting on this song from Ghost Ship called “adoption.” This is really our story and this is why we chose to adopt Adia, to give her a home… Because we were adopted in Christ. If you were wondering about our motivation know that you too can experience this adoption, this love from God through Christ. 

Vacation Mode

I have been joking the last couple of weeks about Stacy’s and my trip to China to bring home our daughter saying it was a vacation. It is true to a point. I am using vacation time to be away. But it really isn’t about relaxation and getting away, there is significant purpose.

It all has me thinking about invitations to slow down and change perspective that we too often ignore or refuse. We have better things to do, we are convinced. How will we achieve our goals if we rest?! How can I be the best it I am not moving, hustling..?

Maybe we need to say yes to more of these invitations. Set different goals. Slow down. Look around. Be amazed. 

I promise to do so, even on this journey of family growth and adoption. We shall laugh when we can. See many new things. Cry if we need to. And wonder all the more at God’s amazing care for us. 

If you need it, I give you permission to go on vacation!


Lean In To Listen

The last three weeks of life have been a lot of frustration. Not with work or people or even the adoption process that has us heading next week to pick up our daughter. No my frustration has been solely sourced in my ear. The ear that will probably burst and flow forth blood and fluid as the pressure of a few international flights builds, but now remains unmotivated and filled with something that is bringing my hearing down and distracting the heck out of me.

A few weeks ago I had a nasty head cold and sore throat that developed into an ear infection. The membrane protecting the ear drum full of puss and fluid and blood, it was a rather painful experience with antibiotics have corrected (as least as far as infection is concerned – so I am told by the crack medical team that loves to take my money!) There have been sleepless nights, dizziness, and a lot of frustration that I am not back to normal.

Of course I have been letting God know what I think about it all. And I have been asking what he is teaching me – either about staying healthy or relying on him, probably both things. For some reason, I am meant to continue suffering, as long as I keep a needle away from my ear!

In this suffering, however mild it is, I have noticed that I have been listening different. In fact I have to move my head to hear just right, I have to pay close attention and I have to lean in to listen. This has given me some insight on how lazy of a listener I am when I am “healthy.” I tend to hear things before they are being said or listen past people and certainly God’s Word.

So maybe this isn’t so bad (trying to convince myself) and I will learn to be a better, more intentional listener through the process. One can only hope!

Here is to leaning in to listen to what God has for us, what those we love communicate and how we can serve our neighbors and those far off. Lord open our Spiritual ears to hear you and to hear each other…