Thursday, December 04, 2008

Stuart Briscoe on mechanics and dynamics

Stuart Briscoe captures an idea that I tried to get to a while back-- how my research and writing has focused primarily on mechanics and not essentially on dynamics (I didn't use those terms then).

By and large, I have assumed the dynamics at work-- and that candidates are attending to that aspect, as well. I think now that this might be an presumption that there isn't always grounds to make, but for now I will stick with it. (I've been thinking that a book on the spiritual/dynamic aspects of transition might be worth writing, as well.)

Here's how Briscoe describes the differences-- and the interplay-- between the two:
The Promised overflow of "living water" commensurate with the requisite input of life through communion with Christ is the work of the Holy Spirit, as John carefully and helpfully explains in John 7:39. There is nothing hidden or mysterious about the reception of the Holy Spirit. John tells us that it is those who "believe on" Jesus who receive the Holy Spirit. Sadly, I think we should admit that some segments of the church neglected the Holy Spirit, and in a commendable effort to redress this imbalance, other brothers and sisters addressed the person and work of the Spirit but produced an imbalance in the opposite direction. Tensions and temperatures arose, and divisions resulted, but fortunately, in more recent times, wiser heads have prevailed and a much clearer consensus on the person and work of the Holy Spirit has been forged. Having said that, I still believe that particularly in the Western church the Holy Spirit is too often deprived of his proper standing. Let me illustrate.

People where I live love their Harley-Davidson motorcycles, which is not altogether surprising, since they are built in Milwaukee. I know nothing about such vehicles, but I do know that my friends take great interest in the mechanical workings of their machines and lavish infinite care over the appearance of their expensive toys. I also know that all the oiling and polishing, fine-tuning and decorating are of no avail if they run out of gas. Even the mechanical masterpieces we call Harley-Davidsons are useless without the dynamic to drive them. They need mechanics and dynamics-- and so do we! And so does the church. The Holy Spirit provides the dynamic-- he is the dynamic.

So great is our commitment to the thought patterns of the modern world that assume every effect has a traceable, measurable, and understandable cause, that we assume that if we get the causes right or fix them when they are not right, we can guarantee the effects. So we have seven steps to this and five principles of that. We have five-year plans full of goals and measurable goals and intermediate goals, all of which we believe can be reached if we take the right steps and organise sufficient resources. Then if we can keep the program running smoothly-- presto!-- the kingdom will be built. But what of the mysterious, unmanageable, uncontrollable, unpredictable, irresistible, indefinable, unmistakable work of the Spirit? He is the dynamic factor without whom our latest state-of-the-art, cutting-edge technology and know-how and our most sophisticated management principles are useless to penetrate the closed minds, to open blind eyes, to demolish the spiritual strongholds, and to work the miracle of regeneration. The Holy Spirit's dynamic working in the hearts of individual believers and the soul of the community of faith must not be lost in the gloss of our sophistication and the polish of our performance. he works as he chooses, not as we plan. If we overlook this, the more likely it is that we will finish with a manmade system of canals and locks rather than a free network of brooks, streams, and rivers flowing into the brimming river of the relentless life-transforming work of the Spirit of God. True, we will be able to keep control, and undoubtedly we can regulate the depth of the water, organise the times when the locks are open and shut, and manage the order in which the boats pass through. But canals don't flow; they stagnate.

[From Flowing Streams: Journeys of a Life Well-Lived by Stuart Briscoe. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008, pp. 198-199.]

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