We’ve been asking some great questions about what we can do to move deeper in our faith journey. Our recent posts about this have centred around things like prayer, solitude, silence, immersing our self in the narrative of scripture, and being connecting to a spiritual community. It feels like it has hit a good nerve, one that needed to be prodded with. Many people wonder how we can know God more…and if we know him more, what does it mean to love him…and if that happens, how can my life look differently because of it. What we don’t always do is take steps toward that end – we hope for it, like losing weight or finding a job, but then we don’t take any steps to get us closer to our desired end.
What we’ve really be talking about is our journey towards spiritual formation and the implementation of spiritual disciplines. These disciplines, when filtered through God’s story, and made alive through community, move us forward in how we love God, love our neighbour, and how we can make the world around us better. One author says that spiritual formation is the process of being conformed into the image of Christ, for the glory of God, for the abundance of ourselves and for the sake of others. What a balanced way to look at our formation of all things spiritual.
In order for us to get to some kind of balanced approach and view of spirituality, we should strategically be implementing some of rhythms and routines that take us there. Here is where we can introduce what St. Benedict taught as ‘The Rule of Life’. I know, I know, you hear the word ‘Rule’ and all our defences go up. Mine do too. I don’t like feeling closed in or restricted, but that’s not what this is. Rule in latin means ‘something we do regularly’. The word Rule in greek is the word we use for ‘trellis’. Interwoven lines (branches or wood sleeves) that make up a framework or web. In light of those two understandings of Rule we can approach The Rule of life with less scepticism and more intrigue and desire.
One teacher on spiritual formation says we should allow 4 areas in our life to come together so we can see God in our ‘everything’. If we get stumped on the word ‘rule’, we can get even more stumped on the word ‘everything’. Most of us want to compartmentalize our faith. We put God in some places and can’t seem to see him in other places. So, instead of separating our worlds, we can see them as various branches that make up our ‘trellis’ (rule) of life.
Here’s his (one) example of how we can do this:
This branch in our life is anything contemplative. Reading scripture, silence & solitude, journaling, fasting, etc. This is the area of our life that feeds our everything else. We need to have moments in our day/week that are reflective and prayerful: where we take in the narrative of scripture for the purpose of transformation, when we speak to and listen to God.
This branch in our life is so necessary, yet many don’t do this well at all. This is where we can implement some sort of sabbath; time away from work and busyness, for the purpose of replenishing ourselves. In this area we do things that feed us, that rejuvenate us, that make us feel alive – things that we enjoy. You figure out what that is for you and your family. BTW, sabbath is not just about ‘going to church’ it’s about trusting God to work while you don’t.
This branch is about the people we care about and the important people in our life. We can be asking questions like this here: How am I investing in my family? How do I care for my friends and build them up? What kind of relationships and I building with my neighbours? And how am I investing in my church community? These are the relationships God has led us toward – to do life with – on different days and in different ways. Do I care about them appropriately and am I allowing God to use them to shape me into the person he’s called me to be.
This last branch is so important too. Not because work is the most important thing in my life, but because we should desire to bring meaning and life to our work. The work we get paid for and the work we do voluntarily. Most of us think work should define us, and when it doesn’t we feel unsatisfied. Instead, our character, personality, ethics, should bring definition to our work. When we see it as something that can honour God, it changes everything.
Here’s that word again. Everything. How can God be in my everything? By inviting him there. By asking him to open your eyes to all the places he is – already. Paul tells the Colossians that whatever they do, in word or deed, to do it in the name of the Lord, giving thanks to God the Father. Everything we do…we can do it for God, in light of his love, in hopes of his restoration and with the purpose of inviting him in every branch of our trellis.
As we move forward, lets try to develop a ‘rule of life’ – a framework that enables us to see God in everything. The purpose of it all? To love God more, to love our neighbours fully, and make the world better, everyday, in everything.
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small(er) group questions:
We didn’t talk much about these disciplines in our series:
What comes to mind when you think of them? What’s the same about each of them? What’s difficult about them? Ever fasted? Is Sabbath so 1000BC (yesterday)? What about giving/generosity enables me to move closer to God?
What’s easier? Putting God at the top of a list or inviting him to be part of everything on the page? Having a compartment that says God, or having God in every compartment?
When you hear ‘RULE OF LIFE’ what do you think? Is it appealing to you or are you apprehensive?
We talked about 4 aspects in one version of a Rule of Life? What’s most natural to fits your thinking? What’s more of stretch? How do you think they work together?
Paul says in Colossians, ‘Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it in the name of Jesus?’. What do think about that? What would you like to say to that?
(The remaining verses of Colossians 3 address how we treat each other in our homes and at work. Sounds like the scripture instructs us to live in light of God’s story everywhere we go?)