Bible Verse: “As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1)
Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-18
I don’t live in a monastery. I’m just an ordinary guy – a businessman turned pastor who struggles with the same challenges we all face. I am a father and a husband. I am a follower of Jesus. And I understand the challenge of integrating all of these callings into a simple way of life, balancing the various demands I face with wisdom and grace.
But I have found a way to live out my commitment to Christ in each of my different relationships and roles through a life-giving rhythm, what the ancient monks referred to as a rule of life. A rule of life is simply a rhythm of practices that empowers us to live well and grow more like Jesus by helping us experience God in everything.
As remote as the monastic life may seem to us today, the sixth century world of Saint Benedict and the Celtic monks had many similarities to our own time. People then, as now, were facing economic uncertainty, high taxes, eroding ethics, and sexual excess. As a young man studying in Rome, Benedict (480-547) became disgusted with the corruption he saw all around him. Yearning to live a holy life, he moved into a cave outside of the city. But even in the obscurity of his cave, Benedict became famous as a holy man; people from all over Europe flocked to see him. He later established a monastery in Monte Cassino which to this day continues to inspire people to walk in the way of Christ. To guide the growing number of monks who wanted to follow his example toward a more Christlike way of life, Benedict wrote a rule to guide them. He went on to establish twelve more monasteries, giving birth to a revolutionary movement.
The world has changed dramatically in the fifteen hundred years since Benedict. Yet today more than ever it needs men and women who are hungry for God; who live in the invisible presence of God more than in the visible presence of their social network; who experience life with God as they work, rest, pray, play, cultivate friendships, raise children, care for aging parents, and walk with the poor.
The monastic life is not an exclusive club reserved for an elite few followers of Christ. It is a path that each of us can embrace. We all long for something more than the rat race, rushing through life without ever living. We crave depth, an experience of beauty, truth, and meaning. And while most of us won’t take permanent vows in a monastic community, we can each learn to enjoy God’s presence in our rhythms of work and rest, study and play, community and solitude.
A monastic rule of life can help us learn what it means to live so that we are attuned to God in our everything. A life that does more than pray sporadically, but is itself a prayer to God.
A life awakened to God so that the world becomes our monastery.
— Ken Shigematsu in God In My Everything
Copyright © 2013 by Ken Shigematsu
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