This thought crossed my mind recently, “Am I ‘forsaking not the gathering together’ or AM I CLOISTERING?
Cloister. clois·ter noun
A religious way of life in which a person renounces worldly pursuits to pursue a spiritual life or works: monastic life, literally the act of “dwelling alone” (Greek monos, monazein, monachos), has come to denote the mode of life pertaining to persons living in seclusion from the world, under religious vows and subject to a fixed rule, in general as religious. The basic idea of monasticism in all its varieties is seclusion or withdrawal from the world or society.
Seclude or “shut up in” or as if in a convent or monastery.
I don’t think I am a “cloisterer”. I look forward to Sundays at my church. We gather, meet, greet, shake hands, laugh, pray, worship, hear a sermon, then we usually go to lunch together. Afterwards, home. Then, next week, we do it al again! It is my favorite time of the week. (Maybe I AM a ‘closet cloisterer’. But, certainly not in the strict sense of the word).
While pondering the thought of ‘cloistering’, it dawned on me, that I don’t see many ‘religious seekers’ and fewer new ‘conversions’ at our church anymore. I do see the “not-so-regular attendees” on religious holidays. We will see someone from another church, either locally or from out of the area looking for a new church or a place to visit while they are on vacation. And that’s too bad, because, each week, our Pastor preaches a really good bible-based salvation message.
But, it seems to me that even during our ‘revival meetings’ I don’t see that many non-Christians coming down the aisles to get saved.
I wonder why? Is that I am not paying attention? are the ‘unsaved’ present in our services but our methods of anonymity during ‘the invitation to receive Christ into your life’ make it difficult to discover them?
I greet a lot of folks at our church each week. It is one of my favorite things to do. But, I am not discovering many ‘confessing non-believers’. (I have to ask myself, “Who wouldn’t love to join such a fun and loving group as ours?”)
Then I come back to this word, “Cloister”. I read the definition and was a little bothered that it might sound a little like what I have been doing with my life.
For example, I attend church at least twice a week (or more) and visit with my Christian friends, new and established ones.
During my week, I try to abstain from unnecessary worldly ‘pleasures and practices’ – and most associations of that kind. So I don’t venture far from my ‘safe places’. I go out to eat with friends, on occasion. We attend movies, ball games, the beach, etc.
Almost all my friends are Christians. But, I have very little in common with those who don’t have a Spiritual life or a relationship with Jesus.
I don’t drink alcoholic beverages so I don’t hang around with folks who frequent bars. I don’t smoke, don’t cuss (on purpose), don’t watch “R” rated or worse, movies, I don’t gamble, etc. I guess I have very few vices, if any.
I mean, this is what all my preachers have always said I should be and do. So, to facilitate ‘good behavior’ I avoid places where vices are practiced. I guess I might also be avoiding the people who practice such things. After all, the bible does say, “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33) Aside from that, I wonder why I don’t have more non-believers as friends.
Then, there is that bible verse in Matthew 28:19, which says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Since it seems “they” aren’t coming to church as often anymore, does that mean I have to start going to where ‘they’ are?
Maybe that’s the problem. It’s me. I haven’t been GOING and MAKING. But how do I go THERE and not be accused of participating in ‘worldly things’?
“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14) I wonder if this can be applied to me, as a Christian?
Or this bible verse? Mark 1:1 “¶The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (2) As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY; (3) THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.” (This could really cut into my ‘free time’! How about yours?) Your Brother and Friend, Mike Young