A Rule of Life

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In his book, Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell discusses what has become known as the 10,000-Hour Rule, which he considers the key to success in any field of endeavor.  Simply stated, those who have achieved the highest degree of mastery in their pursuits have put in about 10,000 hours of focused practice to attain these levels. Gladwell says that it is simply a matter of practicing a specific task that can be accomplished with 20 hours of work a week for 10 years. 

I’ve played guitar for many years.  I’m probably considered an intermediate to advanced level player.  I still challenge myself to learn new techniques.  I have dozens of training videos, but not much time to view them with my schedule.  I also own many different types of guitars.  One of my wife’s projects involves helping me to “thin the herd,” so to speak, by selling the instruments I rarely use on eBay.  However, without much disciplined practice, all of my instruction videos and my various guitars won’t help me improve my playing.

In this country, we have what Peter Scazzero calls, “American Dream” Christians.  Many people profess to follow Jesus Christ, but they are not necessarily disciples.  They attend church faithfully, they contribute financially, and if asked, they will serve.  Yet they are not disciples in the true sense of the word, ones who focus their entire lives to follow Jesus.  Genuine disciples surrender to God’s will and allow Him to transform their lives.  Instead the decisions, priorities, and commitments of many believers are shaped by their pursuit of the American Dream for them and their families. 

In a book called Move, which discussed the results of a study on spiritual growth commissioned by Willow Creek Community Church, the authors describe what’s called the Spiritual Continuum.  The last stage of spiritual growth on the continuum is called, “Christ-Centered.”  According to Move, “The people in this segment would identify their relationship with Christ as the most important relationship in their entire lives. They see their lives as fully surrendered to Jesus and his agenda, subordinating everything to his will and his desires.” The study concluded that very few Christians reach this stage.

The only way to grow into a Christ-centered stage of spiritual growth is to have a Rule of Life.  This practice finds its roots in the men and women who withdrew from society during the third to fifth centuries to seek a closer relationship with Jesus Christ.  They developed a conscious, intentional plan, which they called the Rule of Life.  The purpose of this practice is to help regulate our entire lives in such a way that we truly desire the love of Christ above all things.  Romans 12:1-2 states, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you” (The Message).

The word “rule” comes from the Greek word for “trellis.” A trellis enables a grapevine to get off the ground and grow upward, producing more fruit.  A Rule of Life can provide that kind of structure and support to help our spiritual lives also get off the ground.

On Friday, February 14, the Hemet Valley Christian Church will provide a workshop on how to develop a Rule of Life, starting at 10:00 a.m.  We invite you to join us on this Valentine’s Day morning to learn how to increase your love for God and the experience of His love for you.

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