Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Reaching Out, Reaching Down

We often hear the criticism that the Church is afflicted with piety, but the real trouble is that its piety is not deep enough!.... We, indeed, still have a little piety; we say a few hasty prayers; we sing meaningfully a few hymns; we read snatches from the Bible. But all of this is far removed from the massive dose that we sorely need if we are to be the men and women who can perform a healing service in our generation. The seat of our disease, says Helmut Thielicke, "is not in the branches of our nerves at all but rather in our roots which are stunted and starved." The eloquent German points out that Martin Luther prayed four hours each day, "not despite his busy life but because only so could he accomplish his gigantic labors." Luther worked so hard that a little desultory praying would not suffice. "To work without praying and without listening," continues Thielicke, "means only to grow and spread oneself upward, without striking roots and without an equivalent in the earth." Trees can grow well in rocky soil, as I can attest by looking out the window of my mountain writing cabin, but they do this only by finding crevices inu the rocks where the roots are able to penetrate deeply.
--Elton Trueblood, The New Man for our Time

In other words, we need to reach down while we're reaching out and we need to reach out while we're reaching down. You really can't separate love for God and love for humanity.

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