Pattern of Life
Most of the time that I have heard talk of “being Christlike,” it has usually been in reference to polite behavior. As if the gospel message were basically, “God is redeeming all of creation and has filled us with the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead… so please behave yourself.”
Paul told the Corinthians, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” This imitation was more like mimicking his movements than shaping their behavior to conform with middle class mores. Paul was talking about tracing his life with our lives, and ultimately having our lives take the shape of Christ’s.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately, and in my usual tendency to be fascinated with monastic thought and practice, I have wondered about whether the Missional Community that we are planting in Alton should have a Rule of Life. It wouldn’t be so much a lifestyle statement as it would be a rhythm of community life that gives shape and meaning to individual stories. We trace out the pattern of life that Christ had, to the best of our ability in our own context.
Best as far as I can tell, here’s one possible version of Jesus’ pattern of life, translated into our modern situation: Didn’t hold a job. Was a transient vagabond, a homeless wanderer. Got thrown in jail. Had to be bailed out of trouble by his father. Then moved back home. Won’t move out of his father’s house until his dad tells him he has to go. Has no idea when that will be.
Actually, this might be very good news, as millions of people in my generation would be happy to learn of their unintentional Christlikeness.