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 manner of life 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 we recommend 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 of the twelve virtues as an outcome, and consider one 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.
SAFE IN THE LOVE OF GOD
How will I become more aware of my personal sin and our corporate sin, the depth of the forgiveness of the Father, and the need and the ability to forgive others?
We regularly turn in repentance to God the Father through the crucified, risen and reigning Christ, seeking His forgiveness and the grace to forgive others.
Reflecting on one’s Baptism; self-examination and confession; genuine apologies; receiving forgiveness.
How will I embrace my acceptance from Jesus and from others, and how will I demonstrate this acceptance to family and friends with me, and neighbors around me?
We continually draw closer to Jesus, God the Son, who empathizes with us in our weakness, and welcomes us as His Friends.
Reflecting on the Eucharist; rising, meal & bedtime prayers; looking for God in others.
How can I become powered by Christ more than by self or the world? How will I receive God’s power for purposeful living, and help others to receive it with me?
We are routinely filled with power by God the Holy Spirit to be and do what He desires, seeking to live, not by impulse, but by godly intention and action.
Reflecting on self-dedication; seeking Holy Spirit’s filling, for self and others; practicing God’s Presence.
How will I become more connected to the Body of Christ in order to receive the confidence which belonging provides, and instill that confidence in God in others?
We commit ourselves to the Body of Christ, God embodied in the Church, coming to trust that all things work together for good for us who love God and are called together in His purpose.
Giving self to church; taking part in church; reflecting on lives of the saints; focusing on the good and true.
SHAPED IN THE IMAGE GOD
How can I come to understand more of myself and my world? How can I invite others to help me to reflect on my life, and encourage others to do likewise?
We draw aside daily from day-to-day living to connect with the God of Eternity to drink from His Water of Life, to gain perspective on our past, present, and future.
Daily time for Bible, prayer, reflection; Christian literature and arts; the daily Examen; praying the Hours.
How can I take part in the blessing of Sabbath Rest, so that the peace of God will become part of my way of living, and how can I invite others into this?
We enter into the Sabbath Rest prepared by the God of Peace for His people, learning how to cease from labor, developing peaceful friendships with God and others for the Sabbath Day and for life.
Keeping the Sabbath, solitude, silence; developing times to retreat, rest and play; managing one’s work.
How can I improve the quality of my relationships with others and with Jesus as I become a close and faithful friend to some friends of God?
We reflect the Life of God the Holy Trinity as we draw near to others in friendship, love, and service, becoming part of a flock of sheep who follow the Good Shepherd.
Joining a small group, team, or partnership; finding/being a mentor; exploring deeper ways to pray.
How can I offer my time, money, abilities, spiritual gifts, and body to God and others? What are the portions which I can give in the months and year ahead?
We give ourselves to the God Who gave Himself to us, rendering ourselves to Him and to others, offering our bodies, abilities and gifts as a living sacrifice to Him.
Giving increasing time and money to God’s work; regular fasting from food, media; whole-life stewardship.
SERVING IN THE MISSION OF GOD
How can I deepen compassion for those in poverty, disease, ignorance or loneliness? What could I do to advance God’s mission of truth and justice?
We reach out with compassionate words and deeds on behalf of the God of Justice, Who desires to bless and save all, serving as His ambassadors to the world.
Exploring new opportunities to serve locally, nationally, internationally; creation care; exploring pilgrimage.
In what ways do I need the help of God and His People, and how might I seek it out? How might I care for others in the church even as I seek their care for me?
We confess our need for God and for one another because the God of Mercy makes us Family, as we give and receive healing, deliverance, and reconciliation.
Short- and long-term prayer; openness to correction; testifying to God; seeking healing and deliverance.
CURIOSITY AND CONVICTION
How might I learn or teach the faith with others, so that I not only desire to know more of Him and His world, but also become clearer in what I do know and believe?
We learn and teach the Word of God as representatives of the God of Truth. We are curious to learn more of God’s world, though firm in the convictions of the Bible.
Developing wonder; asking good questions; studying Scripture, creeds, confessions; Trinitarian prayer.
How might I learned to cease complaining or criticizing? How can I celebrate Life together with others in ways which point to God’s goodness and to my gratitude?
We celebrate Life with the God of Grace since we have learned the secret of being content in all circumstances: we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us.
Offering praise reports; expressing gratitude; days of celebration; living for the next generations.