For the law does not make holy by hearing, but doubtless by performance; each should honour the Lord, not simply by words and bodily toil, but by ripeness of character and purity of heart. And let it not be said of us, "This people honours Me with their lips, but their heart is far off from Me."
- Columbanus, Sermon II (Irish, 7th century)
"And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules."
- Ezekiel 36.27
Celtic Christians did not consider that a man had "learned" anything until he demonstrated a transformed character. "Hearing" the Word of God and the teaching of the Church Fathers was part of that formative process. But merely parroting back what one had heard was not learning.
Bodily toil in service to the community was another way that learning was accomplished. Whether laboring in the fields, tutoring the young, instructing the mature, or working alongside some craftsman or minister, bodily labor was part of the curriculum of every monastic enclave during the Celtic period. One would not be regarded as having learned who did not know how to serve his neighbors with bodily toil.
But words and work still were not enough. Purity of heart and stoutness of Christian character were the real tests of learning. But how could these be demonstrated? When people took to the Law and the Fathers eagerly, meditating long and discussing eagerly; and when people cheerfully, and without compulsion, went to their appointed tasks, and made the most of every opportunity to serve others - when such propensities and priorities were demonstrated day-in and day-out for an extended period of time, along with purity and holiness of life, then it could be assumed that a man was truly learning Christ in a way that honored God.
Is this how we are learning? What do we point to in our own lives to assure ourselves that we are growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3.18). What do others see in us of the true character of our King, as we seek His Kingdom and live for His glory day by day? "Examine yourselves!" Paul exhorted the Corinthians (2 Cor. 13.5).
Perhaps we should do the same?
Today at The Fellowship
A Fellowship of Ailbe mentoring opportunity may be just what you need to get on a more definite and consistent track for growth and ministry. If you are a pastor or church leader and are looking for some serious learning, check out these opportunities at our website.
Today's ReVision looks at the TSA brouhaha and what it indicates about the American character - and how it encourages to thankfulness at this time of year.
We're still accepting suggestions about how to help our fellow believers become better readers. The Campaign for Literacy needs you ideas, so write me with a suggestion.
As ever, thanks so much for your prayers and support of our ministry. You can make an end-of-the-year gift to The Fellowship by clicking the donate button on our home page or by sending your contribution to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 100 Lamplighter Ct., Hamilton, VA 20158.