Build a house from the foundation up, not the roof down, right? The second great Benedictine Value is stability. “If everything is falling apart, what sort of people do you have to be?” asks II Peter. Life has always had its share of people who are just out for new experiences, driven by ego and vanity, running the demo but never the whole application.
To be discipled we need to commit to a life of stability in community.
This has various implications. Because I value stability, I will not throw my toys out of the pram when people disappoint me. I will not easily believe the worst of them. I will always recognise that I have more in common with them, in Christ, than separates us. Creatively, I will recognise that what irritates me most about them are my own vices mirrored — therefore by interacting with them rather than walking apart, I can learn and grow in grace.
Seeing the other person as gift, striving to see God within them, does not make people less irritating. It does help me grow up. A stable community rests on deeper foundations than its members short-term satisfaction, or the fears of its weakest members. It can take them beyond the places they could take themselves, but it is never authentic when it is steamrollers their differences. Stable community rejoices in difference and treats it as enrichment.
All this stands in stark contrast to the way of the world with its “Mr Angry” judgmentalism, Celebrity culture, ego-flattering consumerism, superficiality and tribalism. Just say no, because Christianity driven by these passions will always be a harsh and sour charicature of what it could be, with a commitment to stability. There are times you can be so right, you’re wrong.
God loved us with an everlasting love. That is the bedrock on which we build. Therefore we can freely commit to each other, and stick with each other, almost whatever our differences. The first principle of Magdalene is “Come Together” — Come as you are, but stick with one another. In the face of community friction, work it through and journey on anyway in hope. Wthin the community lie the God-given resources people need to grow in grace and hope — and if only they will commit to this life as a shared reality, there is hope.
This is the second of three posts about the core Benedictine virtues of Conversion, Stability and Obedience, reflected in the Magdalene Community of Nashville, TN.