Section Three: The Lifestyle Characteristics of a Godly Life.
Our current theme: Characteristic Four: Living Purposely.
Our reading for today: Romans 12: 9-21 (MsgB)
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
If you’ve benefited greatly from journeying with us through this 114-blog session study on Christian Discipleship, might I also suggest that you consider walking through The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius/Loyola? Several years ago, I blogged my way through the Exercises, and much like the series you’ve been reading here, you might go over to our website and take a look at our blog series, which accompanies you through an exciting eight-month trek with St. Ignatius, using Kevin O’Brien’s excellent resource book, The Ignatian Adventure.
Unlike others who define themselves as contemplatives, St. Ignatius was determined to not hide himself away in some monastery or abbey, but knew that Christ had called him to be mobile, following the Master wherever the greatest need seemed to be evident. Thus one of the earliest phrases adopted by the Society of Jesus (the band of brothers later defined as the Jesuits) was: “Our home is the road.”
So it is with those of us today who define themselves as contemplative activists…men and women who are determined to live out a balanced life in Christ, where our days are equally divided into three vitally important disciplines found in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. As we’ve discussed in our last two blog sessions, we call these three key disciplines the 3-C’s:
- Communion (with Christ)
- Community (with others)
- Commission (into our world)
You see, as followers in Christ, you and I just can’t be ‘complete’ as disciples when we only attempt to reproduce a segment or two of Jesus’ three-pronged lifestyle model. Each component (Communion, Community, and Commission), when lived out in a balanced way, allows the full mission and ministry of Christ to go forth into our society. Thus, as Christ-centered 3-C contemplative activists, it should be our goal to carefully examine our lives, making certain that we are aiming toward that ‘well-balanced’ Christian life, one that reflects the ‘whole’ life the Master modeled for us in the first century.
My spiritual director, Dr. Micha Jazz, defines it this way:
Contemplative activism combines two ideas; firstly, the essential, yet often lost, art of drawing aside with God for prayer. This so often becomes little more than habitual action and most often is primarily made up of our human voices carrying concerns to God with little space to pause and listen to what God might be saying to us. Contemplation provides a door to discovering so much more about ourselves, each other, God, and His ways. However, there is a danger having ascended the heights through contemplation; we may never return and make our descent back into the streets of chaos within which we are called to carry out the mission of God. Secondly, therefore, we seek to live out prayer by rolling up our sleeves and serving the needs of the surrounding community. The contemplative activist develops this rhythm of ascent and descent in living the Spirit-filled life.
So as we close this nine-month journey on discipleship, my prayer is the prayer of Paul, found in today’s passage (Romans 12: 9-21). Read it once again and then I ask that you go forth, choosing wisely, as Christ-centered 3-C contemplative activists, where and what you put your hands to in the days ahead. At our church in Cedar Rapids, our undying hope is that we will learn in this lifetime to respond quickly and willingly to Jesus’ words, choosing to live a balanced lifestyle that’s congruent with the following three passages found in Matthew’s Gospel. Allow me to share these important words of the Master here today as we close.
ommunion with Christ: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11: 28-30 (MsgB)
ommunity with others: “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence. This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” Matthew 22: 37-40 (MsgB)
ommission into our world: “God authorized and commanded Me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” Matthew 28: 18-20 (MsgB)
My prayer: Father God, as I move forward now, taking all You’ve deposited into me from this nine-month journey, I choose to live a healthy, balanced and purposeful life that includes Communion with You, Community with others, culminating in Your Commission into my world. May all this be done for the greater glory of God. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: Where do I need to tweak my day-to-day existence so that I find a healthy balance amongst the three life disciplines of Jesus? Am I spending adequate time in communion with God? Am I dedicated to living my life in community with others? And finally, am I, like Ignatius, ‘at home on the road’ for Jesus, offering my life in humble service to the world around me?
So what is God speaking to you today as we attempt to live the Christ-centered life?
Over a thirty-six week period, you and I will take a deeper look into twelve key characteristics of a godly life. In other words, we’ll take A Journey into Christian Discipleship. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Journey home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
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If you’ve been reading our Living Purposefully series, this concludes the 9-session blog. Click here to go back to our Living Purposefully homepage…