The Way

The Abbey of The Way is grounded in the Way of Jesus in a time-tested fashion, what we call a Way of Virtue.

In historic Christian teaching, virtues orient believers toward living in, with, for, and towards God the Holy Trinity, much like nautical devices like buoys, bells, horns, and even stars can guide ships to their desired port.  Virtues are designed by God both to center us in Jesus and to define us as we become more like Him in character and everyday action.  By God’s grace through faith, His Virtues can get replicated in us, His children.  1 Corinthians 13:13 states that Faith, Hope, and Love abide, these three. These summary or “theological” Virtues are Attributes of Jesus, the God-Man, demonstrated in His Life here on earth.  God is the origin of these “theological” virtues: He is their origin, their motive, and their object.  The Abbey’s Way of Virtue focuses specifically on these three abiding Virtues, and identifies four sub-virtues for each of the three, yielding twelve life virtues based on the Life of Jesus.  Living in these virtues is a life which is life indeed.

The Vision of God, beholding, listening, attending to Him, is a key concept in the biblical narrative.  We worship The God Who speaks, shows, and acts in ways that we can apprehend.  As we see Him, we become more like Him.  St. Irenaeus of the second century church said, “the glory of God is a human being fully alive”, but then added, “the life of a human being is the Vision of God.”  Behind or associated with each of the twelve virtues of The Way of Virtue is the Vision of God Himself, described in twelve Attributes.  As we behold Him so described, He draws from us or places within us those Christ-like virtues which come from Him.

The Way of Virtue also describes various spiritual disciplines, the means of grace for keeping us in the Vision of God so that we can better receive the Virtues of God.  The Way of Virtue identifies twelve sacramental disciplines that can help us to center on the Vision of God in His particular Attributes, such that He plants or draws His Virtues in us.  Throughout the faith journey, God gives us the desire for virtue, offers Himself as The Source of transformation, and provides the disciplines as means for our living in the “new self created in Jesus”.  The sacramental practices are tuned to one’s current circumstances and to one’s particular stage of spiritual development, from childhood through adulthood.

In the outline below, there is a biblical description of each summary Virtue, followed by a listing of four attendant sub-virtues, each connected to an attribute of God Himself, and a core spiritual discipline associated with that virtue.  The concluding questions assist to us in self-examination and growth.  Adopted together, or even in part, these virtues and associated disciplines can form a Way or Rule of Life that can put us in place where The Holy Spirit moves us toward the goal of Christlikeness, so that we can pursue our personal part in the global mission of Jesus Christ and the building of His Kingdom.

FAITH

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered 

FORGIVENESS
We regularly turn to God the Father, seeking His forgiveness and the Grace to forgive others in various baptismal practices of repentance and reconciliation.

In what ways am I becoming more aware of my personal sin and our corporate sin, the depth of the forgiveness of God the Father, and the need and the ability to forgive others?

ACCEPTANCE
We continually draw closer to Jesus, God the Son, who welcomes us as His Friends, and gives us the heart to receive and give acceptance from and to others, as experienced in practices of communion with God and with others.

How am I embracing my acceptance in Jesus and from others, and how am I demonstrating this acceptance to family, friends, acquaintances, and neighbors?

EMPOWERMENT
We open ourselves routinely to the Presence of God the Holy Spirit to be empowered to be and to do what He desires, as we seek fillings of the Holy Spirit for ourselves and for others.

How am I becoming powered by The Holy Spirit more than by self?  How am I receiving God’s power for purposeful living, and helping others to receive it with me?

CONFIDENCE
We find our confidence, not in ourselves, but in God, mediated through the Body of Christ, Jesus embodied in the Church universal and local, as we take part in various church practices which unite us to Jesus and to one another.

How am I becoming more connected to the Body of Christ in order to receive the confidence which belonging provides, and instilling that confidence in God in others?

HOPE

Christ Jesus our Hope

RELATIONSHIPS
We embody the Relationships within God the Holy Trinity as we draw close to one another in the Church in fellowship disciplines.

How am I improving my relationships with others and with Jesus as I become a close and faithful friend to some Friends of God, and to those who may become His friends?

REFLECTIVENESS
We draw aside daily from day-to-day living to connect with the God The Eternal as we reflect on our past, present, and future, pursuing devotional practices of Bible reading, prayer, and journaling.

How am I coming to understand more of God’s Word, myself and my world?  How am I inviting others to help me to reflect, and encouraging others to do likewise?

RESTFULNESS
We enter into the Sabbath Rest prepared by the God of Peace for His people, learning how to cease from labor by keeping disciplines of Sabbath rest, weekly and daily.

How am I taking part in the blessing of Sabbath Rest, so that the Rest of God will become part of my way of living, and become available through me to others?

RENDERING
We give ourselves to the Self-Emptying God, rendering ourselves to Him, to one another, and to others, practicing sacrificial stewardship of offering ourselves – our time, abilities and resources – to Him, which is our spiritual worship.

How am I routinely giving my time, money, abilities, spiritual gifts, and body to God and to others? What can I give in the months and year ahead?

LOVE

God’s Love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit

COMPASSION

We serve the God of Justice as we receive His Compassion for this world and its people as we engage in practices of social action and evangelism.

How am I growing in compassion for others, especially the poor, sick, lonely, and the unbelieving?  How am I helping to advance God’s Great Commission?

WISDOM
We represent  the God of Truth in this world by seeking God’s Wisdom in curiosity and conviction, as we practice various disciplines of study and teaching.

How am I learning or teaching the faith with others, so that I not only know more of Him and His world, but also become clearer in the convictions I can share with others?

CONFESSION
We humbly confess our need for The God of Mercy and for His People, as we pursue practices of dependent prayer and gentle witness.

How do I admit my need the help of God and His People, and how am I seeking it out? How am I caring for others in the Body of Christ even as I seek their care for me?

CONTENTMENT
We express our contentment in the God of Grace as we develop practices of celebration and thanksgiving in Him Who strengthens us.

How am I learning to cease complaining or criticizing? How am I celebrating Life together with others in ways which point to God’s goodness and to my gratitude?

An alternative Summary of The Way of Virtue is found here: Way of Virtue – Summary

A fuller Prospectus on The Way of Virtue is found here: THE WAY OF VIRTUE PROSPECTUS – v3

A HISTORY OF A WAY or RULE OF LIFE

The first followers of Jesus were often called “Followers of the Way”, or, more simply, “The Way”. Found most frequently in the Book of Acts (9:2; 19:9.23; 24:14,22; 22:4), it was the name chosen by believers in Jesus to describe themselves. The title referred to those who followed the One Who is “The Way” of Truth and real Life (John 14:6). But it also described a Way of Life in God which followers of Jesus Christ came to adopt, covering all aspects of living, setting them apart both from the Jewish or Gentile manner of life from which they emerged, and from the cultural way of life in which they were all immersed. Starting with Jesus’ teachings, such as The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), this “Way” of living developed further in the early church after His death, resurrection, and ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:37-47 for one summary of this Way of Life). The later New Testament includes further development of this unique way of life in Christ, summed up in Philippians 1:27 (Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ) and Colossians 3:17 (Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the Name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him). In the post-biblical period, documents such as “The Didache” (“The Teaching” of the Apostles) clarified in detail what it was like to be a follower of Jesus Christ in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

Unfortunately, with the melding of Church and Culture in the so-called “Holy Roman Empire” of the 4th century and beyond, the term “Followers of the Way” fell into disuse, as did the common adoption of a defined Way of Life to clarify one’s faith and living. In subsequent church history, however, churches and communities that sought to live more clearly in Christ and to resist the pressure of their culture have crafted a Rule or Way of Life for their life and mission together. The “Method” adopted by Anglicans under the Wesleys, and the baptismal or catechetical covenants in many churches are also examples of a Way of Life. In the 21st century, many missional micro-communities are developing with defined Rules of Life.

We invite you to explore this ancient and contemporary practice, following our Lord Jesus Christ in an intentional Way of Life informing all aspects of your living, totally surrendered to His Authority and the Direction of the Holy Spirit in every area of your life. May God give us grace to help one another to find and follow the One Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

LIVING BY A WAY or RULE OF LIFE

A Way of Life can take many forms. It can be as simple as St. Augustine’s “Love God and do what you will”, or as detailed as St. Benedict’s Rule, which included specific times for meals and sleep. If it is to be useful in helping you to grow deeper in living in, like, and for Christ, it should come from God and be addressed personally to you. Coming from God, it should be in accord with His Word, the Bible, and involve prayerfully seeking the Holy Spirit in communion with other believers in your life or church community, and with Rules of Life from church history. Addressed to you, a Way of Life should fit your personality: if you are a free spirit you might need more structure to help you to grow, beyond the limits of your personal freedom; if you are hyper-responsible, a very detailed Way of Life might induce a sense of failure, and so a lighter touch might take you beyond the limits of your self-discipline. Also, your Way of Life needs to be appropriate to your life situation, and therefore should be reviewed regularly for accountability, and occasionally for revision.

The Way of Life that The Abbey recommends identifies a desired life outcome, expressed in terms of a Christian virtue, and then suggests some spiritual disciplines or habits that will put you in a place where God can enable you to attain the virtuous outcome. With the encouragement of the Holy Spirit and His people in your Christian community, you could choose one or several of the twelve virtues as an outcome, and consider one or several of the suggested spiritual disciplines to help you, or develop your own discipline or habit. Commit this discipline and its anticipated outcome to the Lord, and to His people.

DEVELOPING A WAY OF LIFE

Here are some questions to get you started:

Make a list of your existing spiritual disciplines to look at your current Way of Life.

Evaluate it in the light of our outline. What is one area of your life you want to grow with the Lord’s help?

Which of the 12 virtues in the Way of Life outline is most “attractive” or “needful” to you?

What is a spiritual discipline that might help you?

When, where, and how will you start?

What help do you need?

Who can guide you or pray for you as you begin?

To whom will you be accountable as you step forward?