“The Lord said to Abram: Go from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)
In essence, God told Abraham, “Leave this place because I have another place for you.”
The idea of place has been important throughout biblical and church history. 1,500 years ago, the church was in shambles. To combat these problems, a priest named Benedict created a monastic order to help preserve the faith (They were called Benedictines – I spent time at a Benedictine monastery this summer.).
One of the main challenges with the church, Benedict said, was a clergy he described as “always on the move, they never settle down, and are slaves to their own wills and gross appetites.” So, when a monk wanted to join the Benedictines, he had to agree to Benedict’s rules (read them here).
Rule 58: “The monk makes these promises in the presence of all…: stability, conversion of life, and obedience.” The rule is to stay put – stability even comes before obedience and conversion! Settle down. Quit chasing greener pastures. Stop moving from monastery to monastery when things get difficult.
Why is planting roots so important? The reason, I believe, is because the gospel is lived-out in places. Think about it:
- We practice turning the other cheek with an annoying relative at Thanksgiving dinner.
- We practice patience as we care for our aging parents.
- We practice forgiveness when our spouse says something that hurts us.
- We practice going the extra mile when our boss is overly demanding.
How much easier to retaliate instead of turning the other cheek! It’s easier to be impatient and unforgiving. It’s easier to move on to greener pastures. But the gospel isn’t meant to be a theory.
The gospel is a way of life, carried out by real people in real places. And God has a place for each of us. The stability we find there lets us live out the gospel powerfully and effectively. We become like trees planted by streams of water, yielding fruit and prospering in all that we do (see Psalm 1).
Let’s discuss stability Sunday as we continue our sermon series The Power of Place.