John-Francis Friendship: A focused way to live the gospel

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For if you are living in accord with the flesh, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:13

“One of the appeals of monasticism is that its norms and values are clear – it presents a focused way to live the gospel and a defined way to grow in faith. It gently challenges our tendency to self-absorption and self-determination, showing the richness of a life lovingly lived for God and the benefit of others. It is, as one Religious said, ‘the only way I know by which I can offer the whole of myself to God.” It also questions the greed and desire for ‘more’ and ‘the latest fashion’ that is ruining our planet, while countering our busy-ness through a balanced life of prayer, study, work, and rest.”

John-Francis Friendship in What Do You Seek: Wisdom from Religious Life for Today’s World (London: Canterbury Press 2021) 78.

Might you consider becoming a monk? Before you balk, remember this. All it means is that you adopt a rule of life that helps puts the flesh in check so you don’t destroy yourself.

Now that I have your attention, jettison the notion that monasticism relates to a select few. It’s for everyone who desires to lives a Christ-centered life.

My time serving my friend Dan Busby in the surgical ICU ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore this week deeply impacted me. And it reminded me afresh why I am on this earth.

The nurses and staff did not know what to do with me. They acted like no one had ever visited their ward. I was like an alien with a clerical collar visiting a foreign planet.

Most asked either why I came or what I did in the room. Why? In a ward with 16 beds where the doctor said 99% of patients did not walk away, the one I visited has miraculously recovered.

So, at the #6 ranked hospital in the USA, they wanted to know my secret. I said, it’s Jesus. He was restoring Dan to health and strength again in response to the prayers of many.

I told them thousands were praying for Dan. “But who is this guy that thousands would pray for him?” They asked. I said, “He’s a beloved member of a community, the Christian community of faith.”

This opened the door for me to share about Jesus repeatedly. How does this relate to generosity? If we fearless live out our Christian faith with focus empowered by the Spirit, we can have unfathomable witness.

Starving the tendency toward self-absorption and serving others with boldness not only avoids the latest craze. It’s the only fashion that never goes out of style!