Stability is the discipline of staying or sticking with people. It means not leaving your group, not backing out on a commitment, not giving up when the going gets tough.
It’s a virtue that’s increasing hard to find in our culture.
Jesus chose to come into our flesh and world as our Messiah to sacrifice his life on the cross so that we could be reconciled to God. Yet temptations came: Perhaps there was another way that wouldn’t require him suffering the horrors of all human sin, torture from brutes, and rejection from his followers and friends and even his Father?
- In the desert Satan offered Jesus an easier way to rule the world and Jesus replied, “Away from me Satan. For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’” (Matthew 4:10).
- Peter didn’t want Jesus to sacrifice his life on the cross. “Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men’” (Matthew 16:23).
- In anticipation of his suffering Jesus resolved, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” (John 12:27-28).
- Jesus sweat drops of blood just before the cross. Three times he wrestled within himself and yielded himself to the Father’s will: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
- His enemies sneered at him on the cross, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ” (Luke 23:35). Jesus’ reply? “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
Jesus endured. In doing so the writer to Hebrews says, “He learned obedience from what he suffered” so he could become “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:8-9).
The Way of the Monks
Monks from the time of the Desert Fathers in the 3rd and 4th Centuries, through Saint Benedict, all the way to our modern day, have practiced Jesus’ endurance in love.
The monks make a vow of stability to their communities, to stick together in the their calling from God to live, pray, and work together. Their close proximity and daily disciplines stir up difficult issues for them but they commit not to run away but to keep seeking and serving God together through good times and bad.
The Hope of Community
God is a Trinitarian community. Our Three-in-One Lord made us in his image as communal beings. To thrive we need to be in loving relationships.
What a glorious thing community can be! Recently in a spiritual formation gather a friend shared with me Dallas Willard’s definition of community:
The aim of God in history is the creation of an all-inclusive community of loving persons, with Himself included in that community as its prime sustainer and most glorious in habitant.
Such a community lives under the immediate and total rulership of the Holy Spirit. They are a people blinded to all other loyalties by the splendor of God, a compassionate community embodying the law of love as seen in Jesus Christ…
They are an obedient army of the Lamb of God living under the Spiritual Disciplines, a community in the process of total transformation from the inside out, a people determined to live out the demands of the gospel in a secular world. They are tenderly aggressive, meekly powerful, suffering, and overcoming.
Such a community, cast in the rare and apostolic mold, constitutes a new gathering of the people of God. May God almighty continue to gather such people in our day.
When we stay in community with the Body of Christ we stay connected to God and to the soul work he’s doing in us to to form us more into the image of Christ.
Your Opportunity to Practice!
In a much more limited, but still very important way, when we make a commitment to God and others we ought to practice the discipline of stability, to endure together with and for Jesus’ sake.
For instance, when you start a small group you’ll be tempted to quit prematurely – don’t! Stick it out for the number of weeks you committed to. Don’t give up on God’s work of grace. “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25).
When you’re tempted to quit a spiritual commitment recall these great words:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hebrews 12:1-3).