Living a Life Set-Apart for the Lord
Set-Apart for the Lord
Brief History of LSFL
Reasons to LSFL
As Christians and as members of The Sword of the Spirit we are called to a life of radical discipleship no matter what state of life we choose. There are some who have chosen to respond to God’s invitation to live a life set apart for the Lord, a life consecrated to the Lord – what we have come to speak of in the Sword of the Spirit as living single for the Lord. We purposely speak of living single for the Lord to emphasize the positive aspect of “living for the Lord” and not simply “not marrying.”
In our world today and in our communities, God has a need for women to respond to his invitation to live single for the Lord in order to fulfill the mission and the work of The Sword of the Spirit. In this presentation we will discuss a brief history of living a life set apart for the Lord, the reasons why one would chose to live single for the Lord, the basic elements of a life set apart for the Lord and update you on the women living single for the Lord in the Sword of the Spirit today.
Celibacy was not a part of the Jewish OT tradition. For a woman to be childless (barren, sterile) was considered a reproach or even a punishment for sin. Jesus introduced a new era and a radical way of life: He was not married, and he offered celibacy as one way to live for the kingdom that he came to proclaim: “Some have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:12).
Paul wrote of this way of life in 1 Corinthians, chapter 7, emphasizing how the single woman is freer to devote herself to the Lord: “The unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband” (1 Cor 7:34). As the early church grew, many disciples, both men and women, began to embrace celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of God.
It was typical in that time and culture for these consecrated virgins to live at home with their families. In its earliest Christian expression, to make a vow of virginity was a private choice, with no particular service, duties, or status other than being a witness to the reality of kingdom and to singlehearted devotion to God.
1. IMITATING JESUS: Scripture presents us with the example of Jesus who did not marry. So individuals choose to remain single to be more like Christ, to closely imitate Him.
2. OFFERING OF SELF: For the sake of the Lord himself and for the sake of freedom to love him with an undivided heart; to offer ourselves to him as fully as possible, with all our love, energy, attention, and devotion.
3. CHOOSING CHRIST: To have the Lord as our only treasure, our portion (Psalm 16; Levites), putting aside other things dear to us in order to set our hearts upon the Lord; to depend on him as our sufficiency.
4. SERVING: To be more available for the Lord’s service, to be free from the major concern that it is to raise a family (1Cor 7:25-38).
5. PROPHETIC WITNESS: Living SFL is a witness to others and a prophetic action:
Women pursuing this vocation need to have a basic Christian maturity and enough physical, emotional, and spiritual strength. It is important that they resolve to live chastely and have an ability to handle their sexual and emotional desires; a firm decision to forego marriage and bearing children, romantic intimacy, and sexual pleasure; a desire to make themselves available to God in service; and confidence that their commitment is pleasing to God as well as joy and peace in living this way of life.
There are many different expressions and ways of prayer, with different emphasis and focus or “spirituality,” but for all men and women living single for the Lord, prayer is central to their lives.
Prayer is an expression of this singlehearted relationship with the Lord and is particularly essential to us LSFL because it is the surest and greatest means of communicating and expressing the love that exists between us and the Beloved.
“The time we spend in having our daily audience with God is the most precious part of the whole day.” —Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Without this encounter with God in prayer—if we act like a wife who never spends time with her husband—we could not sustain LSFL.
There is a difference between poverty and simplicity: In the secular, socio-economic context of the world, poverty implies a lack of essential things; being needy. In a religious context, a vow or promise of poverty or simplicity means choosing to go without or make do with less for the sake of the kingdom of God. Various “degrees” and expressions—Franciscans especially embrace poverty. Mother Teresa’s sisters, the Missionaries of Charity, live a very frugal and simple life.
In our context of the Sword of the Spirit, for the women a living SFL and the Servants of the Word, simplicity is having what is needed to live adequately and serve God in the ventures he calls them to, but not in excess or in luxury or with having superfluous possessions.
Simplicity is freely chosen, both as a expression of love for God, sacrificing good for him, and as a means of being freer, undistracted, less attached to unnecessary things of the world. In maintaining a life of simplicity, we live with a generosity that recognizes that all we have is from God and for God and his work. There is a wide range of expressions of simplicity, and these expressions are often related to the cultural and economic situation in which one lives.
There are many forms and expressions. Generous giving of self, time, gifts, and resources. Our basic spirit is one of being willing, at all times, to put ourselves aside for a higher good. Use the energy and time that is not directed towards a husband and children to serve God, not to have more time and energy for self. It is also important that women living single for the Lord have skills and a profession to be able to support themselves financially.
Some groups have a specific charism or call; some individuals do as well. Living single for the Lord is not the same as living single for the sake of a career or particular profession.
Submission to God and to others; not living with an independent, self-seeking or self-serving spirit. Involves maintaining accountability and the orientation that “our life is not our own.” In the Sword of the Spirit, this is expressed through our public commitment to a covenant and our common agreements together as a people as well as through our relationship with a pastoral leader and the authorities of the community. For all members of the Sword of the Spirit, including women LSFL, our public commitment involves an element of submission to the way of life of the Sword of the Spirit and its authority.
We need others. There are many expressions of community life where one can live out a call to live single for the Lord: A religious order with a high degree of common life; looser associations with other single for the Lord women: living together or clustering; living with families one’s own or with a community family; living alone and getting support through church, community, family; having some common patterns of life with other women living single for the Lord, etc. Again, all members of the Sword of the Spirit, including women LSFL, live some particular elements of shared community life with obligations and commitments toward one another that express that we belong to one body and care for one another at least to some degree.
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