Do you think of family as central to the practice of your faith? How large is your family? What did I have to say about family? When I was informed that my family was at hand, I said that my family were those who did the will of God. This is hardly an affirmation of blood relations. Throughout history family ties have been a strong distinction for acceptance, and by implication, rejection of those who are without. This is the original basis of tribalism that has served to create divisions among people.
What do you think is an appropriate gift for another person? Most of these are measured in monetary terms, even if thoughtfulness counts. You can only give away what you have. Do you have a sense of confidence regarding the future? Even in difficult times, do you see the universe unfolding according to a master plan? Do you know that you have a part in it, and so does everyone else? Do you know that there is a benevolent supreme being giving you a future and a destiny for good? Blessed are those who know this, but not everyone does.
Do you consider the whole world to lie in wickedness, lost in darkness? Are you mindful of your commission to come out from among them and be separate? How do you carry this out? Do you hold it as a matter of doctrine that you are better than they are? Do the verses describing the state of the world around you tempt you to respond with spiritual arrogance? Would their answer about your behavior agree with yours? How can you reach them with my message if you hold yourself as superior? How can you hold a correct understanding of spiritual discernment and not enter into judgment?
Do you love my appearing? How do you do this? So many of my followers have studied the question of my return, which I promised, and used it as an occasion to develop scenarios and timelines and assign identities of Biblical characters to real people. How many have been correct so far? None. This alone should discourage you from making definite predictions. And yet the Biblical instruction is clear and emphatic for you to watch for my return, to love my appearing, and to hasten the day of my return. How can you do this without focusing on scenarios and dates and identities?
Do you see prayer as a sacrifice? You can make a case for this from the Bible, and that the scent of the prayers of my people provides a sweet aroma for me. The concept of sacrifice is inseparable from cost. If you see your prayers as a sacrifice what cost is associated with them? If you only pray for your own concerns or acquisitions, how is that a burden? If you want your prayers to be sacrificial, address them to issues beyond your own personal concerns. Don’t you find this quality attractive in other people? I find it attractive in you too.
Do you rush to judgment? When something goes wrong, are you eager to attribute it to another person and in particular to attribute it to evil intent on their part? For instance, if something is missing do you assume that another person stole it? Yet there are many possible explanations for a missing item some of which involve inadvertent action on the part of another person and some don’t involve other people at all. If you are quick to impute evil intent and actions to others without really knowing you should ask yourself why.
Are you prepared to accept that I am present in every act of kindness? You do not struggle with this idea when it concerns yourself and those within your tribe. What about those who are outside? How far outside? Is it easy to accept when it is another denomination within your same faith? What about other faiths altogether, or none at all? This creates a much different criteria than the nature of the kindness itself. What standard do you think those receiving the kindness would use? Does this challenge your theology?
Have you noticed that one side effect of the modern world is the need to carry identification, and to remember a username/password combination for all of your on-line accounts? This may be necessary for security, but isn’t it a relief to be among friends who know you, for whom you don’t have to present a card to establish your identity, or to log in? What do you expect when you enter the Kingdom of God? You may only know me by reputation; that which you hear from others, or read about.
Is it more important to you to be right or to be loving? Being right is highly regarded in your rational culture, and people find comfort in having a correct understanding, or knowing more than others. Are people as proud of their ability to love or as eager to develop it? Consider the story I told about the Good Samaritan. I intentionally chose someone whose beliefs were in error. Yet my audience could see that it was the one who stopped to help who showed kindness, rather than those of correct doctrine who passed by.
Are you familiar with the concept of self-norming? Do you do it? Is it incomprehensible to you that others come to different conclusions than you do on important issues? Do you think that they are stupid? You can comprehend that there are different viewpoints than your own without agreeing with them. You may find that those who disagree with you are as informed and intelligent as you are. You may also find that they are of good character and conscience. You are called not to judge, and disagreeing with you is the worst reason for judging someone else.