Love of our Lord reveals itself in the profound ordinariness of a holy life. — Leaving Faith “at the doorstep” is impossible if we truly follow Christ, because True Faith unavoidably influences how we live our lives.
Salvation is through Faith in the free gift of God’s Grace, given through Jesus; the Father’s only begotten Son and our Christ. (Galatians 2:16) Yet, IF that Faith is real, it will be evidenced through the fruit of Good Works. (James 2:14-26 ) So, if our day-to-day life does not reflect Christ and His commands, our claim of Faith in Christ may actually be false… AND our Salvation may be in question…. (1 John 2:3-6)
That said, growing in Faith and growing as a Christian is a process… and, sometimes, simple tools can help us along this journey… In today’s divided, uprooted, and hectic society, a surprising number of Christians are re-discovering the benefit and blessings of voluntarily submitting to a Rule of Life. Striving to keep a Rule of Life is a response to God’s love and is a personal commitment to the guidance of His discipline. A Rule calls us to a standard of practical foundations, which strengthen our relationship with our Christ, provide the quiet of soul needed to hear His voice, and improve our witness of His love for the world.
In the 1st letter of John, we’re reminded; “15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[d] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever… “ (1 John 2:15-17)
A Rule of Life is a calling; it is embraced, rather than enforced. Its daily obligations call us away from distractions and turn the soul toward wholehearted Christian life. A Rule is a pilgrimage; a continued expression of love and faith in God, a daily witness to His Presence, and a focal point in daily renewal of relationship with Christ.
I offer these Ordered Precepts of life and ministry for your prayerful consideration……
A RULE of LIFE
+ Remember that we have freely chosen to become property of the most high God and that, through Baptism, we bear His mark. Therefore, we and our lives no longer belong to ourselves, but become our own freewill offerings (sacrifice) to Jesus our Christ. (James 1:1 / Philippians 1:1 / Rom 1:1 / Jude 1:1/ 2 Peter 2:19 / 1 Cor 7:22 /Dt 15:16-18)
+ Remember that our God works within and through time, and that His Spirit guides His people in “history.” We acknowledge that our God of History has revealed His Word through men, and that His Holy Spirit actively caused Scripture to be trustworthy, to be codified, and to contain the Words of Life. We pray for wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit as we seek to understand His Word. Our interpretation is also informed through both Reason and Tradition. Yet, we must always confess that this living Word of God is uniquely above both Reason and Tradition, and that it serves as their judge. (John 1:1-3 / Luke 16:16-17 / Matt 5:18 / Rev 22:7-21)
+ Abide faithfully within the order of creation and the complementarity revealed in Scripture. The Father creates us each intentionally, and how we are made is part of His call upon our lives. (Genesis 2:18-24, 5:1-2 / Eph. 5:22-33 / Titus 2)
+ Let all of you live in oneness of mind and heart, mutually honoring God in yourselves, whose temples you have become. (1 Corinthians 6:19)
+ Be assiduous in prayer (Colossians 4:2), at consistent hours and times that are set aside.
+ When reading the Word and when praying to God in Psalms and hymns, think over in your hearts the words which enter your eyes and come from your lips. Let the Lord’s Word fill your hearts and speech. (Psalm 1:2 / Luke 6:45 / Psalm 49:3 / James 1:22-25 / Psalm 77:11-13)
+ As appropriate, and as health permits, make an offering of your will and discipline to the Lord by refraining from food, drink, or small indulgences. Abstinence is a strong complement to times of prayer, listening, and seeking our Lord’s guidance. (Luke 2:37 / Acts 13:2, 14:23) As Scripture advises (Matt 6:16-18), it is most appropriate for this to be a private matter that draws no attention.
+ There should be nothing about your clothing to attract attention. You should not seek approval by your apparel, but by a good life. (James 1:9-11 / 1 Peter 1:23-25)
+ Strive to master the tongue and to keep your speech moderate, for this honors the Lord and strengthens your witness. (Matt 15:18 / James 3:4-6 / James 1:19-21, 26)
+ In your walk, deportment, in all actions and decisions, avoid being a cause of offense to anyone who sees you. Let your actions be a witness of Christ, whom we serve.. (1 Corinthians 8:9 / 2 Corinthians 6:3)
+ Give no place to temptation and exercise care over purity of life. Guard your eyes, that they may not become an avenue of sin. Dwelling upon unGodly thoughts or resting our gaze upon a tempting view creates opportunity for sin. (Job 31:1 / Proverbs 5:15-21 / Proverbs 27:20 / Mark 14:38 / James 1:13-15)
+ If you notice wantonness of the eye in one of your brethren, admonish him at once and offer mutual accountability, so that the beginning of evil will not grow more serious but will be promptly corrected. (Galatians 6:1)
+ Let our work and ministry both be prayer and be a partner with our prayer. Find joy in the work that God sets your hands to, for in this we share and partner in His creation. Work is sanctified when it becomes a prayer, an offering, and a service of love to God and to others. Let it be the mark of Christ that is on our foreheads and our hands. (Psalms 8:3-9 / Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 / Hebrews 2:6-8 / Revelation 14:1,9-13)
+ Rest is a gift from God and not to be neglected; He knows how He made us and what we need. Therefore work without rest is not a Godly thing. Honor the Sabbath principle by resting and recreating as appropriate. (Genesis 2:3 / Exodus 20:8-11 / Mark 2:22-29)
How to Approach a “Rule”…. When you find that you are doing all within the Rule, give thanks to the Lord, the Giver of every Good and continue striving to put Christ on, daily. But when you find that you have failed on any point, simply offer true contrition for missing the mark, be on guard for the future, and pray that you may walk more faithfully, not be led into temptation, and that you may serve our Christ all the more fervently
May our Lord grant that we may faithfully observe these precepts in a spirit of love and charity, and thereby offer witness of Christ through our lives: not as slaves living under the law, but as men living in freedom under grace.
Shalom…. Michael+, MSJ