So the Urban Abbey (UA) team had our weekly four hour extravaganza meeting where we cook together, eat together pray together and plan together. Last week we had finalized our own personal Rule of Life individually. You can find these on the "About Us/Staff" page under our names. This week we wanted to begin working on what the rhythms of life would look like at the UA. Before we began that task, however, we needed to step back and ask ourselves, "Why a Rule of Life?" So many of these things start well and end very poorly. So we sought help from scripture. Paul's prayer for a little church plant of his for whom his love overflowed helped give us clues about how we, in our little Abbey plant, could engage a Rule of Life that might have legs. We checked out 2 Thessalonians 2:11,12 and got the following clues that we put in the form of a diagram, which you can find at the end of this post.
First, if your motivation for your Rule of Life is anything other than that the weight, significance and worth of Jesus' name be made great through you, then you will fail before you get out of the gate. A Rule of Life must not be about being culturally correct - even within Christian culture. It has to be about one thing - becoming a better post it note, attached to the walls of the world to point to Jesus. If that's what the Rule of Life will enable you to be, well,then you will receive the power of God to actually follow through and the grace of Christ for when you fail.
Second, it's okay to dream big about how life could be in the kingdom, as long as you have good purposes. So often, when we think about a Rule of Life we get into a list-it mindset. Paul prayed for the Thessalonians that God would fulfill every one of their good resolves! That's pretty powerful. God gives us the freedom to pursue good resolves. Those resolves need to come from a fired up imagination. The best place to light a fire under your resolves is by spending time reading and reflecting on the Word of God. Good resolves, the kind that God will fulfill, always come from an imagination that has been soaked in the radically subversive, cleansing water of the Word.
Third, if you want to create a Rule of Life that will catalyze practices in your life that will display the glory of God, then you will need to take risks of faith. Whenever someone wants to change their lifestyle, or include some new habit that will draw them closer to Jesus, they are in for a battle. The world will mock them, their own flesh will find every good excuse to not follow through, and Satan will deceive them. Choosing to follow through on the kind of resolves for good that the Holy Spirit places on your heart through scripture will cost you -usually your life. But that's where the power of God and grace come in - again. Rely on the power, lean in to that power, and receive grace when you fail to depend and try to do it on your own.
Fourth, purposing and choosing faith are not sufficient - you have to follow through on your Rule of Life by actually doing the work. This is where most North American Christians fail. It's always great to talk about revolutionizing the world - which always starts of course with revolutionizing our own world - our self. However, to actually get down to the work of doing it is another story. But, a Rule of Life is useless, no matter how beautiful, articulate and well thought through it may be- unless it is actually lived! To do this sort of thing requires a community of support and love - and of course that's why we in the UA were working on a Community Rule of Life. We need each other to encourage, comfort and provide strength. You should never try to do a Rule of Life on your own, God made you to be inter-dependent with others and completely dependent on Him. I think there is some sort of equation that says there is an exact correlation between success with a Rule of Life and depending on God and God's life in others.
Finally, as we rely on the power and grace of God to live into our Rule of Life we become more worthy of the calling of God - and therefore more able to declare his beauty. God takes our good purposes, our faith, and our actions - even though they are totally reliant on his power and his grace, and completely insufficient on their own - and uses them to make us worthy of the calling of God.
I am so thankful that it is God who makes me worthy. So, a Community Rule of Life then, is a great tool to knowing God more, spending more time with God and removing distracting and discouraging habits from how we follow Jesus. But ultimately, all of this depends on one thing - that God will make us worthy - and he often chooses to do so as we create culturally subversive Rules of Life, that confront our culture and point straight to Jesus.