Breaking Visibly With the World


The need to break visibly with the ways of the world,
and to assert something more defintely by one's lifestyle,
becomes more and more urgent as our society
plunges morally into the abyss,
and socially into disruption.
The need is for witnesses whose witness is both intelligible and unmistakable,
for witnesses who know how to reject and rebuke evil however disguised,
and likewise proclaim what is good.
 
(Abbot Parry)

When I read the Desert Fathers and Mothers, I am in touch with the ancients who believed every word of what Abbot Parry (a Benedictine Abbot) says above. They were saddened and disgusted by the excessive immorality of the cities of the ancient world. They went out to the desert to find solitude and silence... not for the sake of solitude but for the purpose of finding God. In the cities, there was too much noise, busyness, distractions, hurriedness, and interruptions.

In the solitude of the wilderness, they waited on God. They crafted a way of life that was strikingly at odds with the prevailing culture. They became holy. They became spiritual giants in the realm of wisdom and in spiritual warfare. Their reputation spread... and others went out to the desert to find these wise spiritual directors and learn from them.

All this I understand and even value.

But I believe we must walk a different road. Instead of an actual withdraw from the reality of the sinful world, we need to find ways to remain embedded in our settings AND to connect with God in those places. We must find ways to experience God's holiness and be missional activists for the Sake of the City. We must learn how to be in the world while we are not of the world. 

This was certainly the way of the Jesuits who did not withdraw behind the walls of a monastery, nor seek the solitude of the wilderness. They were "missional mystics." They were "contemplatives in action." They found God in the context of service and love to the world. And as they did... that is how they rejected and rebuked evil and proclaimed what is good.

We are light. We are salt. We are love. We must be present, clear, compelling and attractive.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International
BrianRice@lcileaders.org

 LCI - Helping You Reject Evil and Proclaim What is Good