Cooperating With God's Grace: Developing a Rule of Life Part 1


“Developing a Rule of Life.” Part One

BLOG #20 March 16, 2021


Over the coming several weeks we are going to discuss ways in which we can better cooperate with God’s grace in our spiritual awakening and way of being with God, by building a workable and effective Rule of Life. A Rule of Life is simply a way of living in which we practice God’s presence, respond to God’s presence, and allow ourselves become vessels for God through whom God’s presence is revealed in the world. The term Rule of Life may be foreign to many, as over the centuries it has been used mostly as a reference to a particular formal way of life, within the context of a calling to a monastic way governed by such rules such as the Rule of Augustine, Benedict, Dominic, or Francis, which ranged from the cloistered to those living in the world both as religious or laity. We will talk more on how these may provide practices for the development of our own rule in a future BLOG. For today however I would like to consider how any follower of Christ Jesus can develop their own personal Rule of Life and what that may look like in the midst of our busy society. As such, I would like to herein first expand on what is meant by a Rule of Life, for us, here and now.

First, your Rule of Life is just that, Yours!

A Rule of Life is a unique expression of our personal intentions regarding our life in God as we journey to holiness and perceptible union, we call contemplation, thus becoming God’s vessels of love in this world for the glory of God and for the benefit of the other people.

To establish such a Rule of Life we must, at the outset, dispel any notion of creating a list of rules, actions, or practices that in any way are exercises in rigid legalism. Our Rule is not a work that causes something as much as it is away of being that opens us to becoming one who is open to the Lord’s draw on our lives. Our Rule becomes a training ground for surrender to the will of God. Thus, our Rule is not designed as a way to impress God and it is never meant to be oppressive or burdensome.1 In fact the word “rule” comes from the Latin regula meaning regular. Therefore, we are not looking for an overly detailed, fussy, impractical, complicated program. Instead, we seek to be guided by the Holy Spirit as those who are saved through, surrendered to, and dwelling in Jesus Christ our Savior. Thus, our Rule of Life, to be effective, must take shape in response to God’s loving presence guiding us through the process as we seek ways in which we can best know, and respond to God who is Love, as those who are created in the image of God who is Love. This is not a work to accomplish something as much as it is a way of being in an ever deepening relationship with God that overflows into every relationship we have in this world. The structure of our Rule of Life thus simply becomes a visible format that indicates our regular life with God. A decision to create a “Rule of Life” is synonymous with our desire to live a “With God Life.” The best Rule of Life is one that has been developed within the context of deep soaking prayer. Through prayer our Rule will flow freely from a sanctified imagination and God given creativity. In fact, a big part of what we will be discussing is how we can allow our Rule to flow out of and be formed by the Word of God. I have found that in so doing we discover ourselves quite naturally flowing into undistracted simplicity, holy presence in solitude, deep silence as we listen to God’s still gentle voice, inner stillness where we discover and surrender to God’s will, and a spacious freedom in Christ Jesus, making our Rule joyful, holy, and inspired. When this occurs, we find that our Rule of Life becomes a well-ordered way of life that allows us to live into the unforced rhythms of God’s grace for which we were created. Rather than a legalistic burden, our Rule thus becomes a holy declaration of our deepest desire and intention to come before God, welcoming God’s presence and action in our lives, which is the foundation of a solemn, holy, personal living relationship in which we are gradually awakened to our union with God. This is a living relationship that incorporates all of life (spirit/heart, soul, mind, and body), and every moment, however interesting, exciting, mundane, routine, or difficult that moment may be. From the Christian perspective a Rule of Life is a conscious declaration and visual representation of our decision to follow Christ in all we think, say, and do. It is our tangible “Yes”, to Christ’s call to follow him. Our Rule is a declaration that states we will, to the best of our ability, pursue Christ’s passion, which flows out of Christ’s love for all humanity in every aspect pf life. Thus, it must begin with a deep resting and listening to the Lord’s call to love God with all our being and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:36-39) and as Christ loves us (John 15:12). In a real sense our Rule then becomes a regulator, an accountability partner, keeping us focused on our desire to love like Christ loves. It keeps us aware and focused on who we want to be and who God is calling us to be. In this we become more and more aware of our “True Self”, the self that God created us to be, as well as God’s never ending presence with us.

Thus, it is imperative that the process is approached with humility born out of a deep love for God and neighbor. Thus, this is a Holy Spirit empowered effort. We will explore all this further in out next BLOG post. Until then, God bless you all.

Gene

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