Yesterday I shared how I admired the passion and reasons that some of those in early Christianity had for becoming monks. Their desire to remain pure and obedient to God in a world that was making Christianity a social and political thing is admirable. Again, I want to be clear that I don't necessarily agree with all of their methods. For one I am not going to run off and live a life of solitude in the desert. And I don't know if I could ever go with the bowl cut and brown robe look. But there are some things that us mondern non-monastic Christians can learn from them.
One of the things that developed over time in monastic communities is a "Rule of Life." Each community would come up with a step-by-step plan of how they were going to live. For example the rule that St. Benedict came up with is 73 chapters. Within it are the rules that Benedict came up with that cover both worship and life in the monastery. An analysis of the rule shows us that:
"Of the seventy-three chapters comprising the Rule, nine treat of the duties of the abbot, thirteen regulate the worship of God, twenty-nine are concerned with discipline and the penal code, ten refer to the internal administration of the monastery, and the remaining twelve consist of miscellaneous regulations."
What I find interesting is that Benedict tried to make the Word of God less theoretical and more practical. I don't know that I would want a rule that specified how I was to sleep (yes Benedict had a rule about how the monks were supposed to sleep) but there is something about trying to set a daily routine or a daily way of life that centers around God. It makes me pause and wonder about how many things I do in a day that are not centered around God.
For a seminary assignment we were to write our own "Rule of Life" but it was just that...an assignment. But the assignment did drive home one important idea. We should have a plan of how we are going to stay grounded in our faith. Some of the easiest things to identify as essential (reading the Bible and praying on a daily basis for example) can sometimes be the hardest things to do if we don't have a concrete plan to do them. And that is where a "Rule of Life" come in to play. It is merely setting down our plan for doing these things on paper and then sharing that plan with others so that they can hold us accountable.
I pulled that assignment out and have been working to update it. Tomorrow I will share it.