How do you view the doctrines of your faith? Do you see them as propositional truth claims that you must assent to for salvation? Do you see them as anything else? Do they express things that you wouldn’t accept as true in any other context? Is anything necessary beyond an affirmation that they are true? The founders of the faith had no doctrines, but they had encounters with me. Have you? I don’t want you to think of doctrine as a way to avoid encounter with me. Instead I want you to see it as an invitation to encounter me. I want you to see it as an open door. Come on in.
Should Christians be involved in politics? Your answer may depend on whether you are considering those believers who agree with your political positions, or those who disagree with you. Do you think the Bible provides only one clear answer for every issue? Would you encourage those who come up with different answers to actively pursue them? Are you prepared to accept those who do as fellow believers and members of the same body? If you pray, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven, then you can work for a more just world here.
The Great Commission I have given you involves sharing my message with others, and hopefully introducing them to me. You know that they can’t see me directly, so they have to see me in you. Do you understand that this carries more weight than all the doctrines and scripture verses and apologetic defense of truth claims you could make? If your audience doesn’t see anything desirable in you why would they respond to your message? What is it about you that would attract people to me? Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify me.
Are you an intelligent person? Do you understand that there are various dimensions to intelligence, so that it involves more than doing well on standardized tests? People can be gifted in math or language or art or movement or empathy. Emotional intelligence is a valid concept. Do you think that there is such a thing as spiritual intelligence? If you approach this question from the above perspective you may think that the one who has memorized the most Bible verses as the most spiritually intelligent, but that is conventional intelligence applied to scripture.
Have you heard the saying that you are known by the company you keep? There is an underlying truth that you will tend to associate with like-minded people, but there is a stronger version of the same concept. You can keep company with people with whom you are not in community. Community is a stronger concept that implies more than casual association. Community includes relationship, a support network, common purpose and a deeper sense of belonging. Community involves commitment.
Where does your mind go when you don’t have a demanding task that requires your complete attention? Can you step back from your own thoughts long enough to see them as an observer rather than a participant? What trends would you see and what thoughts dominate most of your free time? Do you notice the same patterns and loops in repetition? Do you spend an excessive amount of time in thoughts of discouragement or opposition about negative situations in your life even when you are not actively involved in them? I came to set you free, and this is a good place to start.
What does your culture value most? The body? The mind? The spirit? These are all valuable things, but some are emphasized more than others. This is illustrated by the fact that the most extreme insults available are to call someone stupid and ugly. These are attack on the mind and the body, and this implies that they are more important than spirit. What would be an insult to the spirit? To say that someone is mean and cruel? Aren’t these things worse than the quality of your appearance and your cognitive abilities?
Have you ever had goose bumps? What caused them? This alert response can occur from things that cause fear, but also from things that inspire awe. They can signify a call to something beyond yourself, to acknowledge a greater reality. Do you see them this way? How do you respond to this call? Do you see anything that calls you upward to a less self-centered view as beneficial? You are surrounded by influences and images that are real even if they are not presented in verbal form. I want you to be open to these things as inspiring invitations and consider how you should respond.
Have you heard of Job’s comforters? When Job was in a time of great distress, his friends came to comfort him. You may recall from the story that they were not much help, and so the phrase has become a proverb to this day. Yet even so they sat with him in silence for 3 days before offering bad commentary and advice. Perhaps this alone provided comfort. Have you ever felt the comfort of a friend who showed up to be present with you, even in silence, during a difficult time in your life? Did it make a difference? Have you ever done this for someone else?
Do you recall my statement that the Kingdom of God is within you? This is a powerful statement. What do you make of it? How do you view yourself and conduct yourself in response? Are you aware that my presence dwells in you and you carry my influence with you wherever you go? The statement that I made to my disciples, that extends to you as well, implies that this is true whether you realize it or not. Would you live your life differently if you lived in constant awareness of this? You are bought with a price and you are not your own. Therefore glorify me in your body.