In this final article I want to focus on an important aspect of what we as elders have been talking about together over the last few months. I want to call them ‘Ways of Life’ (or ‘rules of life’ as our predecessors called it). This is a way of stating and then living out certain priorities together. It’s a way of collectively saying these are the practices that will shape and create rhythm in our shared life together as a church. Using biblical language, these are the things that together we are doing to devote (Acts 2:42) ourselves to. Wonderfully, we don’t have to try and make this stuff up. Acts 2:42 gives us a devoted and shared way of life:
‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.’
This is another way of saying they devoted themselves to scripture because the apostles were the ones, at that time, who were responsible for the faithful transmission of scripture (both written and oral). However, when we commit ourselves to being a church community devoted to scripture we are willingly accepting that somebody else’s voice (God’s) gets the first and last word in shaping how we think, feel and act.
This is another way of saying that they intentionally wove their lives together around Christ. When we commit ourselves to this way of life we’re willingly and joyfully acknowledging that there is no type of healthy spirituality outside of the family of God.
The third ‘Way of Life’ that the early church committed themselves to was ‘breaking bread’, which is really shorthand for taking communion or, maybe even more importantly, keeping the cross at the very centre of the community. This third ‘Way of Life’ is really a communal commitment to dealing with issues when they arise and not to brush them under the metaphorical carpet like the rest of the world. The cross keeps church life honest and healthy!
Prayer is a day-in-day-out recognition of the utter frailty of ‘the kingdom of me-myself-and-I’ and a willingness to lean upon Christ’s all-sufficient power!
My encouragement to all of us is that if we commit ourselves to making these four things the top priorities in what we do together, all the other wonderful things we are longing for will flow out of this devoted way of life.