The Christian spiritual life, all too often, appears to be abstract, disjointed, lacking unity and cohesion. All too often, our pursuit of God is segmented from the "everyday, ordinary life," rather than encompassed within it. We regard God as something for "over there", whether "over there" happens to be a Sunday School, a church building, a soup kitchen, or a mission field. We do not think of the realm of the with-God life as being the ordinary, the routine, the normal happenstance that fill our days and hours, which is, in reality, the arena of faithfulness.
Stephen Macchia, in his book Crafting a Rule of Life: An Invitation to the Well-Ordered Way , provides a remedy for this common way of thinking, a counter-narrative for those lost, confused, and lacking direction in how best to follow after Jesus Christ. Borrowing wisdom that spans the work of the Spirit across history and searches out nuggets from various nooks and crannies of the Kingdom, this book will guide you through a step-by-step reflection that, with the help of God, can lead to the development of a comprehensive vision for growth in the Christian spiritual life.
Here are five valuable benefits I received from this book:
- In crafting a rule of life, we must first look closely and carefully at the life God has given us, including our relationships, our gifts, our desires, our personal vision, and our sense of mission or ultimate purpose in life.
- "Time, Trust, Temple, Treasure, and Talent" are helpful categories for understanding various arenas for faithfulness to God. We must grow and develop in our spiritual, relational, physical, financial, and missional priorities in order to be good stewards of the time God has given us on earth.
- Community is vital for growth in the development of the Christian spiritual life. Macchia has a love and appreciation for the church, which renewed my own love for Christ's body.
- In developing a rule, examples of faithfulness can be found throughout history. This diversity is a beautiful evidence of the expansiveness of God's kingdom. Macchia quotes from Adoniram Judson, Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Benedict of Nursia, and Phillis Wheatley.
- Questions are often more helpful than "how-to". Macchia does a delightful job of guiding the reader through questioning, and the book itself provides space for writing reflections.
In addition to these five benefits, each chapter includes a biblical exploration that builds a strong foundation for the aspect of crafting a rule Macchia explores. You are never left wondering how this might connect to Scripture.
We all long for a thriving, vibrant life with God that transcends the ethereal and invades the everyday. This book will help. Pick it up.