The Benedictines have remained together as a community of faith for 1500 years. Benedict, the founder in 539 AD, required every member to not only profess faith in Jesus but also to make three sacred vows: Vow of Stability, the Vow of Conversion, and the Vow of Obedience.
Vow of Stability (Part 1 of the Vows of Church Membership)
Stability referred to the commitment to fellow believers in the community of faith. A vow of stability is a commitment to resolve relational tension by staying in relationship. Faithful members of the Benedictine Church do not walk out on each other. Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). When we stay put, we develop deep roots that provide nourishment and an anchor for the storms.
• What experiences with other believers have helped you anchor the ship of your life for rough waters?
Vow of Conversion
Benedict was not referring only to the initial conversion of a believer but to the ongoing conversion into the image of Christ. The vow of conversion is an embrace of the full intent of salvation both our justification and our sanctification.
• In what ways has there been a hyper-focus on “getting saved” to the neglect of “being saved”?
• What results from the neglect of either aspect of salvation—“getting saved” (justification) and “being saved” (sanctification)?
Read John 17:3.
• How does Jesus define eternal life?
• As you read the remainder of Jesus’ prayer on our behalf in John 17:11-26, identify descriptors of the abundant, enteral life offered in salvation.
Jesus is describing an abundant life united with God. Not religious drudgery but a personal, mind-blowing union with God. This is what the Benedictines referred to as “conversion”—God’s constant invitation toward Himself.
Hope Through Transformation
Paul talks about a “hope” that makes us bold to share the gospel.
Read 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 (NIV)
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
• Are you aware of particular areas of your life that have already been transformed by God to reflect His image rather than yours?