Steve Macchia Blog

Benedict: A Life of Listening

Many centuries ago, one hero of the faith chose purposefully to live the Christian faith counter-culturally. Around A.D. 540, Benedict developed a rule of life for faithful followers of Christ. In the midst of increasing religious and secular pressures, Benedict began the journey of discerning the will of God for himself and those he lived with.

In his classic “Little Rule for Beginners” Benedict’s opening word is Listen! He offers a way of listening in a safe, faith-filled community environment. Here God’s voice can be heard by those seeking him through humility and obedience. In community, like-minded and like-heated believers best learn to practice the disciplines of prayer, healthy relationships and good works.

According to Benedict, God becomes the primary informant of the heart and mind when believers learn to listen to his voice. Out of this posture of listening, God calls each one to loving intimacy in prayer, faith and life. Such a disciplined journey may be difficult at first, Benedict confesses, but “as we progress in this life and in faith, our hearts will expand with the inexpressible joy of love as we run the way of God’s commandments.” Thus the ultimate outcome of living by a rule of life is joy. Loving worship and faith-filled service to God produces pure joy. This is the pathway to the abundance of life.

Benedict thought and prayed about how best to live for God in this world. His classic rule was crafted in isolation, but tested and transformed in community. In a cave near the Anio River in Subiaco, Italy, Benedict came to the full realization that God’s call was toward humility, as expressed both in contemplation (a life of prayer) and community (a life of love). This twofold priority became the backbone of Benedict’s rule of life.

Is it time for you to “cave away” from the busyness and noise of this world and listen humbly to the gentle voice of God? To discover your own personal rule of life takes time and concerted effort; you must listen to God and discern what he wants you to be and do for his glory. Fulfilling a personal rule of life, centered in the pursuit of a well-developed spiritual life within a predominantly secular society, is difficult to say the least. But it’s certainly not impossible.

Set apart time to prayerfully listen and then write out what you sense is God’s invitation to your life. If you need help crafting your personal rule of life be sure to consult www.ruleoflife.com for resources for this journey.



Your Rule of Life: Written or Unwritten

Your personal rule of life is a holistic description of the Spirit-empowered rhythms and relationships that create, redeem, sustain and transform the life God invites you to humbly fulfill for Christ’s glory.

 

All of us have an unwritten personal rule of life that we are following, some with great clarity, others unknowingly. We wake at certain times, get ready for our days in particular ways, use our free time for assorted purposes and practice rhythms of work, hobbies, worship, vacation and so on. There is already a rule in place that you are following today. Isn’t it time to give up our unwritten rule and prayerfully write one that more closely matches the heartbeat of God?

 

Those who fail to do so are like wild, untamed grape vines. They will produce some fruit, but they probably won’t be as abundant as they could be. Instead, they become more vulnerable to things that threaten their spiritual vitality. However, those who are intentionally reflective, prayerful and attentively responsive are like cultivated vines. Growing on a trellis (a rule of life) and cultivated toward maturity, they become spiritually formed. The trellis curbs our tendency to wander and supports our rather frail attempts to be nurtured spiritually. Our lives will produce an abundance of fruit for the glory of God. Mature vines are cultivated to produce the best fruit.

 

Though your life seems full, does it at times feel unfulfilling and empty? Perhaps you may be allowing others to define how you should live. Do you yearn to hear the voice of God louder than that of a parent, family member, friend, teacher, pastor, boss or leader? Do you feel the need for clarity and focus? Or are you looking for a way out of boredom and mediocrity? Perhaps you long for a refreshing, renewing lifestyle. Whatever the reason or life situation, you feel compelled  to consider the invitation God has for you today. He is calling you to himself, gifting you for service and empowering you for the abundant life.

 

Perhaps it is time to write out your own personal rule of life. Check out www.ruleoflife.com for additional, practical help crafting one that fits the true you!



What is a Personal Rule of Life?

What do you think of when you hear the word “rule”? For many of us, the word has negative connotations. We are likely to think of rules as boundaries that forbid us from doing something. But a rule of life is something else. Rather than being a set of laws that forbid us to do certain things, a rule of life is a set of guidelines that support or enable us to do the things we want and need to do.

A rule of life allows us to clarify our deepest values, our most important relationships, our most authentic hopes and dreams, our most meaningful work, our highest priorities. It allows us to live with intention and purpose in the present moment.

The word “rule” derives from a Latin word, regula, which implies not so much a system of rules or laws, but rather a way of regulating or regularizing our lives so that we can stay on the path we have set out for ourselves. A rule is like a trellis which offers support and guidance for a plant, helping it to grow in a certain direction. A rule of life is descriptive in that it articulates our intentions and identifies the ways in which we want to live. And when we fall short of these intentions, the rule becomes prescriptive, showing us how we can return to the path that we have set for ourselves and recapture our original vision. It is not something fixed and rigid, but something which can and should be adapted to our present circumstances and shaped to fit our current needs and desires.

In the ancient sense of the term, regula or rule meant “guidepost” or “railing,” something to hang on to in the dark, that leads in a given direction, points out the road or gives us support as we climb. It’s created of the raw material of our lives and it assumes no great wisdom or spiritual depth to understand. Instead, it’s an invitation to life in all its fullness, depending on God and listening attentively to his voice. And it’s fulfilled in the simple routines of everyday life, bursting forth from a well-ordered heart and resulting in the well-ordered way.

Why not try your hand at crafting a rule of life starting today? Go to www.ruleoflife.com for more information and additional resources to guide your journey.



Crafting a Personal Rule of Life

Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-informed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2 The Message

Fix your attention on God and you’ll be changed from the inside out. God is the one who brings out the best of you. That’s a truth worth pursuing with our whole hearts. God lovingly invites us to pursue our shared calling as a Christian community and our unique vocation as individual disciples. There is only one Moses, one Ruth, one Peter, one James, one John – and only one you.

We are all on a common pursuit of loving God, loving one another and loving others in Jesus’ name. We do so in slightly different ways – reflected in the tens of thousands of denominational niches worldwide – but more importantly, we call ourselves Christian and mean it from the bottom of our hearts. Our commonality is a beautiful gift to reflect on and is our delightful inheritance. We are set apart and called to be the people of God, “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that we we may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). But even though we all live our lives in a wider community, we also find ourselves in daily pursuit of a life that’s uniquely set apart for God’s distinct purposes – evidenced in our personal rule of life.

Consider crafting a Rule of Life early in the New Year – and be assured that it’s a worthwhile resolution to keep! Go to www.ruleoflife.com for more information.