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November 27, 2009

By Dr. Gary S. Day

Photo by Geoffrey Agrons

About four hundred years after the resurrection of Christ Jesus, Monasticism came to the forefront of Christian spirituality.   It was thought that the only way to become fully committed and attain righteousness was through seclusion in a monastery.   Good works were espoused by hard labor in the upkeep of the monastery grounds, often times the Monks who were part of a Monastic Order (and there were several varieties) grew their own food and developed a self-sufficiency unparalleled.   Great scholarly works were achieved within the walls of these Monasteries, including the transmission of the Biblical texts and other ancient writings.   The Celtic Monasteries produced many of these works and are noted for saving many ancient writings that otherwise would not have survived through the ages.

One of the unwritten, yet well known, tenets of the monastic system was the pursuit of personal righteousness though meditation in solitude.   Poverty or no personal wealth was also the common rule.  The drawback was that this monastic system was not for the common people.  It was exclusive of them, though the people could join them and remove themselves from the general society and its problems.  It was righteousness in a room, much like that comic prayer that says something like this, “Lord, I have not done anything wrong today, nor have I had any arguments or bad thoughts.  Thank You for granting me your favor today.   I am about to get up now…”   Righteousness in seclusion is a delusion.   This is why Hebrews 10:25 encourages us to not neglect “the gathering of ourselves together… and when we see that Day approaching, even the more so” (KJV).

Modern day Monasticism is not enclosed within the borders of castle like structures, nor is it exclusive to the few.   Many have joined this order of rebellion, treating the Church like it is something of the past and not necessary.   Many who belong to this order never darken the doorsteps of the Church.   The mantra spouted is that God is everywhere, and is where they are; after all they are listening to the word of God, but on their turf.   Often these serfs of island spirituality listen to false doctrine and all kinds of things that present themselves as the Gospel, when in fact they are actually “another gospel,”  and they haven’t the spiritual discernment to tell the false from the true.  These are couch potato “Christians” who do not obey the Word of God.

Christianity is a community religion, not an individual pursuit.   We are called the body of Christ, the brethren or brothers, evoking a family situation.   We can not grow in Christ without the body of Christ.   We are not a part of the family if we are not participating with the family of God.   In Christianity, the practicing and measure of out righteousness is first evaluated in our treatment of our brothers and sisters in Christ.   If we cannot treat our Christian family the way Christ want us to, then our righteousness is nothing.   This participation is not done alone.   It is done with other believers.

The Devil “roams around like a lion seeking whom he may devour,” the Bible tells us.  This is a great image for what does a lion do.   He hunts for the lone gazelle or water buffalo and runs them down, because they do not have the protection of the herd.   When a person is alone in their faith they are weak.  Modern day Monasticism is the television, I-pod or internet Christianity.   These venues have their purpose, but when you replace the social aspect of Christianity with individual isolation and you fail to make attending Church as your primary place of spiritual growth. you are not following God’s plan of sanctification in your life.  The Christian is called upon to love the Lord.   In John 15 He says, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.”   His commandment on this issue is, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another…” (Hebrews 10:25 NASB)  You cannot encourage one another if you are alone in front of your television or computer.  Find a good Bible believing Church to call your own, and get involved with your brothers and sisters where you can practice your Christianity together.

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