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)”
Oh the implications of a life of active passivity!