I want to take a few days and speak on things that we modern evangelicals need to do. The first, as I see it, is the need to act. Too often we stare into the sun, becoming blind to the world around us.
We need to see what is before us. We need to act. We need a personal theology that rightly balances trust and action. It seems to me that most evangelicals have a healthy understanding of trust. We know that we must wait on God and seek His will before we act. We desire to do what He wants. These are great qualities. We should thank God that He has given us these instincts. However, these instincts do not come alone. God has given us a packaged set of qualities. Included in this set is the motive to take dominion (Gen 1), to survey our world, pray, think, and then act. You see, God has not left us to act only when our circumstances scream at us to take a certain course. He does not hold us accountable for hearing audibly or even imperceptibly what we are to do. The very first word of God to man included the summons to action: to take dominion. We are responsible for trusting in God and praying for Him to guide us. But then, Christians, we are responsible for acting wisely. Do not think that God holds us accountable only for the first. He holds us accountable for both of these actions.
I’m preaching to myself here. And to my colleagues at the seminary I attend. Many of us have a desire to go into ministry but possess little in the way of specific direction. We know we want to do ministry, and we want to do it faithfully. We just don’t know where or what, exactly. This situation can lead to a handcuffing of our will. We can pray and pray and fail to act, waiting as too many of us are for clear and incontrovertible guidance. This is not a godly schema for decision-making. Pray, yes. Trust, yes. Take counsel, yes. But then survey the field–and act. Men, this is your responsibility as the head of the household. And single men–this is the way you prepare to be leaders.
As I go through life, and hear testimonies of how God has led his children, I am repeatedly struck by how often action had to be taken before guidance became clear and blessing was given. We have been trained, latently and explicitly, that the primary way God works is through some intangible form of direct guidance. But this seems quite wrong. God often works when we have trusted in His sovereignty, prayed for His will and then struck off to make hay where fields are found. In the biblical economy, this makes perfect sense. God is not like those mothers you see at the mall who lead their children by a rope system. He leads us by faith. His world works by faith. It is the oxygen we breathe. He does not desire faith occasionally, but continually. Thus, He gives us all kinds of opportunities to exercise faith by prayer-fueled action. So, if you get one sentence out of this, get this: things aren’t going wrong if you have to take action without certain and incontrovertible guidance. If you have prayed, sought counsel, and thought your decision through, things are going right. You are acting, and you are doing so by faith. For the Christian, this is how the world works. For the Christian, you see, there is a need to act.