Contemplation and Evangelism
The risks of renewal are great, but we must take them. An evangelism fed by the fire of contemplation is a real power of the Holy Spirit. It is a union of contemplative life with apostolic mission. Effective evangelism comes only from those who know that outward action flows from an inner vision, and that vision sees the oppressive power of political and social structures as well as the pettiness that enslaves individuals. Saint John of the Cross speaks of the contemplative preacher: “What we have joyously harvested with the sickle of contemplation in solitude, we must thresh on the floor of preaching, and so broadcast.” In the end this is what Christian companionship is for. It is for mission. It is for renewal.
Genuine revival requires the marriage of the contemplative with the prophetic. Only then will there be the kind of balance in which the full Word of God can break out with its healing power. The flame always needs to be pure of fanaticism and hatred. The inner work of prayer and the confrontation and nurture in spiritual companionship are a vital means of this purification.
The recovery of the art of spiritual direction, understood as that which takes account of the forming of the Christian community in the power of the spirit, is an encouraging sign that the evangelical thrust of the church’s life will go forward on a sound basis. With proper spiritual foundations the church cannot help but have a missionary identity. Evangelism must be rooted in a community, and unless that community is continually being formed in and by the Holy Spirit, there is no ground from which the gospel can be proclaimed.
(From Alan Jones Exploring Spiritual Direction Harper San Francisco. 1982. 125-6)