10. Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us along with support of our local economics.
The first part of this ‘mark’ is, I guess, one that would only be making an appearance in lists like this very recently. Gradually, more and more Christian communities are discovering the important of stewardship of the earth as a fundametal biblical principle (even if a little bit late). Yet, over the last decade I’d say there has been a large influence to ‘get out and keep your neigbourhood nice’ often as part of ‘servant evangelism’. Yet, I think this call goes further. Its about finding ways to make our footpath as people sustainable and responsible as well as having a response to improve the location we are in. More an more communities have gardens, projects and redevelopment initiatives going on, especially in the inner city, and this is great.
Support of local economics is crucial for the future of our cities. Our supermarker cultures and the mass production and wholesale of goods threatens local and small business and affects the sense of community. There is much to be said in Christians leading the way (and indeed, in challenging) local businesses. The story is told of Bramwell Booth opening a bread factory to bake bread when the local bakers were charging costs above the reasonable rate for people to pay…because Bramwell could do it for next to nothing, they soon changed their minds! Now, it couldn’t quite work like that these days, but the principle is the same. Yes, we support local businesses and enterprise and invest ourselves in the community, but not at the expense of the poor I shouldn’t like to think.
11. Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18.
No-one can fail to notice that we live in a war torn world. Leaving aside the pacifist/non-pacifist debate, regardless of that, there is a huge role for Christians to be reconcilers. The first place this needs to be ministered is within the church. It also needs to be ministered into local families who have no healthy ways to solve differences. It needs to happen in fractured communities where racial segregation fuels tension. It needs to happen between peoples and nations. Whether you are for war or not, and whether ‘just war’ is in your theology, all of us can and should have a theology of reconcilliation and peace-making.
However, to now enter the pacifist debate, today’s new monastics will travel to places and Bagdad and Kabul and look the locals in the eye and ask for forgiveness for the wrongs done in the name of our nations. They will sit with the killer and the bereaved mother and broker some resolve. They will sit with the broken husband and wife and weep for restoration. They will sit in the roads in front of tanks. They will refuse to be at war with anyone, because to be at war is to fight your brother. They will move into broken communities and live peacably with everyone so far as they are able, repairing broken walls and repairing places long devastated by the consequence of sin and poverty. They will be up front and about the fact that the way to peace is through reconcilliation to God through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit wherever and whenever they find a soul who needs the light of God. They’ll fight and they’ll fight to the very end to see God’s Kingdom transformation to come in whatever form it needs to manifests itself. I believe these to be the steps of Master Jesus. I ask that God would give a soft hard and hard feet to go to the places it is vulnerable to go to all for the sake of grace.
12. Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life.
This is pure dynamite. From our position of freedom in Christ, we submit ourselves to him. We commit to seeing our relationship with him develop through the renovation of our hearts by his Spirit. We follow the footseps of Master Jesus who would often go into the night to pray or rise to pray alone to maintain close communion with the Father. We will reject the shallowness of 20th century evangelical-charismania and plumb the depths, widths and heights of the love of God through Jesus. We will then live out of that place as we engage in mission to a lost world.
The new monastic will take a spiritual leaf out of a variety of people’s books throughout Christian history to seek appropriate help and responses to our current day problems. We’ll pray with the apostles, the church fathers, the reformers, the anabaptists, the Wesleyans, the pentecostals, the charismatics, the Salvos, the new monastices, the eastern orthodox because we’re all birthed from the same branch which is Christ and we will recognise the value of the whole Christian tradition, lest we become arrogant and think we have the monopoly on holiness rooted in the trenches of the daily establishing and advancing of the Kingdom.
From the place of close communion, the new monastic engages in close connection with the people around, pouring out their lives and investing in the lives of those who need themselves to reignite the spark of the Divine and reconnect with their Creator. As they do this, they will pray, talk, drink coffee, mow lawns, sweep yards, preach, worship, work, pray again and on and on for as long as Jesus tarries in his coming again, seeing more and more the answer to ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done!’
Thanks for taking this brief wander through the 12 Marks of New Monasticism with me. I hope, certainly, that you Salvo’s out there will have heard something of the call to primitive Salvationism which was an order of preaching friars as much as any people were. For those tired of routinism in church, I pray that there might be something which will cause you to ask ‘yes, there is more to it in this.’ And for all of us, I’d ask ‘how might my world see Jesus if I started to live out my Christian faith with others in this way?’ Good question….the answer demands some sort of response from us before God for such a time as this.