Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Monasticism?

This morning while driving to work I listened to Shane Claiborne on an NPR podcast . The Podcast was about the New Monastic "movement" specifically at the Simple Way in Philly. I'm really moved by what those guys are doing at the Simple Way. I guess I'm also trying to understand it all. He shared an interesting quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
"The person who's in love with their vision of community will destroy community. but the person who loves the people around them will create community everywhere they go."
For the past few weeks I've been trying to sort through what Jesus really said while he was here on earth. As I've been drawn to this need to understand I've just begun to scratch the surface of what he said and what some other have said about what he said. This led me to purchase the Shane Claiborne book Irresistible Revolution. I was excited to hear him speak at Catalyst in October. I don't know why though. I had never read, heard or spoken to anyone about him. I had heard only rumblings about his life. I knew that he helped start a "community" in Philadelphia called the Simple Way. I liked the sound of the communities name - I guess. I knew that they lived with the poor. Both of these two things: simple and living with the poor seemed right to me somehow.

When I heard Shane Claiborne speak at Catalyst, God was really leading me to the book of Matthew. Jesus said so much there about the poor and to me Jesus always lived simply. I guess simply in terms of the idea that he didn't "hang on" to any earthly treasures. I like that or at least I like the idea of that. God spoke to me in so many ways that week. Chris Seay and Rick Warren had some great things to say as well.

So I've been reading through the New Testament and I've been reading Irresistible Revolution. I'm just beginning to scratch the surface of the new monastic "movement". I've discovered that there are a lot of communities like the Simple Way/Potter Street community. At first all of my reading got me upset and it disturbed me. Just like it's difficult to hear the beating of a drum without it being noticed, it has been difficult to read and hear what Claiborne has said and what he has pointed out about what Jesus said and just look away! The beating of that "drum" draws me closer and closer and I know that God is the musician.

The thoughts that run through my mind and challenge me have to do with what Jesus said:
24“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Matthew 6:24-25

37“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 40“He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me.41Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward.42And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” Matthew 10:37-42

37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:37-40

I'm beginning to think these things:
  1. Jesus said to love God and love others.
  2. Jesus said to give up some stuff. The stuff that gets in the way of loving Him and loving others.
  3. The stuff may be different for each of us.
  4. Jesus said to take care of the poor and those in need.
  5. Jesus said to live a life a life dependent upon and sustained by our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
  6. Jesus said to be about doing and not just knowing.
So where do we need to be:
  1. In action, taking care of the poor and those in need.
  2. Uplifting other believers and encouraging them to love God and love others.
  3. Moving away at a high rate of speed from a life that is about trying to spend all of our time figuring it out when the answers are right in front of us.
  4. Reaching for a life that loves others and creates community without worshiping community.
  5. In the streets, in houses, in churches, in soup kitchens, in nursing homes, in prayer, in study, in conversation, in God lead by the Holy Spirit.
All of the other stuff will probably take care of itself. We're all at different places. We're all called to give up different stuff. We're all called to a life of different missions.

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