Over this coming week, I plan to make a number of entries on the Wind Farm as a way of providing my reasons and "resonances" for our Book Reading. You can read the relevant chapters of the antique book I gained permission to reprint here.
As you’re probably aware, for well over a year, I have been reading and researching the wisdom, principles and values of Christian monastics. Interestingly, I have discovered that many who ask to hear what I’ve been up to lately, are extremely interested in the subject and the material … until I make the "fateful" mistake of mentioning the word monastic in the course of sharing. The moment that happens, it seems as though their eyes glaze over and suddenly I have lost them.
I’ve been asking myself, is it because I’m on a wrong search? Could it be that the whole idea of monasticism sounds just too Roman Catholic for the Protestants I relate to and am a part of? Or is it that in our post-modern Western culture, we have forgotten that the key to finding the way forward is more often than not, to look back?
I think we’ve grown so enamoured with the concepts of "bigger and better", "brighter and shinier", "smaller and faster" that we’ve subliminally chosen to discount almost anything historical in favour of "all things new". Now, while God is most certainly the God who is able to make all things new, He is also the Ancient of Days. He is the alpha and omega. He indeed is our end, but we must remember that He has also been there since before the beginning! Let’s face it, He Himself is the the greatest writer of history the world has ever known! I mean, have you read your Bible lately??
I believe, in our desire to "have everything", we’ve chewed it all up, spat it all out and been left with nothing of any real value .. and, in recent years, the mass exodus from church as we’ve known it is a dead giveaway that people are realising they’re dying from a diet of "processed" Christianity.
My wife, Jo, and I sometimes watch a lifestyle show on TV about property development called The Property Ladder. While it may seem a strange subject, there are remarkable parellels with why I’m sharing this. In the program, a highly experienced and successful property developer helps first-timers with their new developments. Invariably we see the same thing again and again. Sarah, the experienced developer, is brought in by these first-timers so they can glean and learn from her advice .. and when she makes suggestions, they almost always counter her advice with an "I know better" attitude. It annoys me so much, I even end up talking to the TV!!
Time and again, we have seen people lose small fortunes on failed developments because they just didn’t listen to the voice of experience. After all, she has hard-won wisdom through applying the very principles she’s trying to teach them. However, just today, I caught 20 minutes of an episode, in which a couple followed her advice to the letter and walked away with a $250,000 profit! That result, compared to what we’ve mostly seen, was incredibly telling .. and is immensely applicable to my point .. being that, I am totally convinced that God initiated and is leading my search .. and much of what I’m finding by reading the voices from across more than 1,000 years of monastic history, has been and remains life-changing.
While the standard monastic packaging remains largely irrelevant in a post-modern society, the contents of the package has much to say to us as we stumble in the dark looking for answers about Kingdom and church life in the 21st century.
So, I’ve been asking myself things like, "How do we really form intentional Christian community, especially when my network of relationships are spread right across a city as vast as Sydney?" "Are people ‘drowning’ enough in the demands of life, to make them ‘violently’ lay hold of a quieter, more balanced and rhythmic lifestyle that’s conducive to real and lasting spiritual development?" "Are people even interested in a real and lasting spirituality?" And then, "Would there be people willing to embrace an ‘older’ way of living in order to find a new way into the future?" These and so many more questions continue to rattle around in my head and my heart.
But all the while, I am seeking the mind and seaching the heart of God, to find a way .. not a method .. but a way, to truly experience a kind of church life that will change all those who are touched by it. Remember, Jesus didn’t say He was "the method, the truth and the life. He didn’t even say He was "the program, the truth and the life". He said He was "the way, the truth and the life" .. and it’s the way we find hardest to follow.
When I talk about this kind of church, I’m not talking about numbers and size. I’m not talking about an impact that gives me more "bang for my buck". I’m talking about a way of Kingdom living that penetrates the hearts and lives of those who are touched by the Jesus who is made manifest through our "love for another", so much so, that their lives are changed forever. And even more importantly, that they would never fall away, because when life crowds in on them with all its ugliness, they would be found unshaken because their deeply penetrated heart has already led them on a quest of developing a true and lasting spirituality in relationship with their great Redeemer.
I am convinced I .. we .. need to listen to those who have successfully walked the road of developing intentional community, continual prayer, abiding spirituality, life transformation and more across more than 1000 years of church history. We can, and should, learn from their experience. Then, having done so, we need to listen to Heaven for how to apply what we learn. And that’s the tricky part .. because my worldview as a man living on the crossover of being both modern and post-modern gets in the way so often and causes me to filter out so much of what is meant to be for my benefit.
Maybe then, the vision of the Wind Farm isn’t so far fetched, especially if we realise we need a fresh wind to blow away the ideas that hinder the new/old wisdom God is trying to show us.
More Reasons and Resonance about our Book Reading soon …