Pushing Ahead vs. Drawing Near
Men just want to keep busy. They want to have their hands on things, manipulating, fixing, improving, making things work. In the spiritual realm no less than the physical, men want to have a job to do. They love Paul's talk of pressing on, of physical training, of fighting the good fight. They're quite comfortable with the idea of perseverance and discipline. They like markers, measurable progress, gold stars. Give them something to shoot for, to earn, and they're happy as pigs in mud. Back when I was venting my dissatisfaction with Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven Life, wherein Warren speaks of doing things on earth in order to get "promotions" in heaven, one friend of mine (who strongly disagreed with my negative assessment of PDL) said, "At least now I finally know there's something I can do!"
Oh how we yearn to earn! And it does seem such a relief to be told that, yes, if you work hard enough, great things will come your way. On the other hand, as Rob at Miscellanies on the Gospel makes clear (here and here), we can't work out anything that God has not first worked in. I am convinced that the great need today is not for still more activity, not that we "get it in gear," "hop to it," "look lively," or "push ahead," but that we draw near. Not that we run hard, but that we be still. What say you?