Do you understand that the process of dehumanizing opens the door for atrocities and complete disregard for human life? If you can characterize your enemies as so different from yourself that they do not qualify as human you can do whatever you want to them. Millions have died as a result. What is the opposite of this? The obvious response is humanizing, and this is correct. What can you do to make your enemies more human? You can recognize that you share solidarity with everyone created in my image. You can reach out and make contact to get to know them personally.
Do you see injustice in the world? What do you do about it? Vocal protest is one immediate response, but what enduring changes have you seen as a result of mob outrage? Patient efforts to change structures that favor injustice are less flashy but have a greater chance of success. Do you attribute injustice to individual sin? But there are large systems that contain perverse incentives that reward those who do evil. You could think of these as structural sins. Are you aware of these and oppose them, or do you consider sin to be only individual?
Do you know the difference between wounds and injuries? Both involve damage to the body, and in many cases these terms are used interchangeably, but there are exceptions. You say that the victim of a vehicle collision is injured rather than wounded, and you say that a solider who is a battle casualty is wounded rather than injured. Injury carries the connotation of the consequence of an accident, and wounds carry the connotation of deliberate infliction. In my case you refer to my wounds rather than my injuries, as in, I was wounded for your transgressions.
Do you believe in justice? You have a legal system for dealing with serious offenses. You can bring a lawsuit against someone who has injured you, but there are many situations in which you suffer loss that cannot be attributed to a party that you can bring into court. Does the concept of justice still apply? This is a question to address philosophically as cosmic justice, considering your overall situation in life. Job argued his case against me but was not successful in getting a conviction. Considering your life overall can you make a case against the cosmos?
Are you familiar with the concept of presence by discussions with your fellow believers about the quality of my presence in a meeting? Behold, I am with you always. Do you know that you and everyone else also has a sense of presence? Have you ever been surprised by someone offering full personal presence? Do you find it more common to encounter distracted or clouded presence? These are quite common in a self-absorbed, individualistic culture, and so encountering someone who is fully present to you can come as a shock. What quality of presence do you offer others?
My word tells you to confess your faults to one another. Do you think that this is a part of a legal process for being forgiven of your sins? But this passage does not refer to confession to an authority. It implies that anyone is qualified, and it has to be someone that you trust enough to confide in. Then what is the purpose? Have you done this and felt a sense of relief? This process is even described as unburdening yourself. There are some things that are too great a burden for you to bear alone, and these include your own shortcomings.
Have you ever suffered rejection? Is there anything more painful? Have you ever been involved in a one-sided friendship in which all of the initiative was yours? What is the opposite of this that you crave? Acceptance and approval? Is there a basic human need to be desirable and attractive, to be sought out? You know people who seem to have this quality built-in. Are you envious of them? Does it seem that life comes easily for those who are wanted and with difficulty for those who are not? What category do you see yourself in? Do you know how I see you?
Do you value your freedom? Do you value your money? But your money is only as good as what you spend it on, and the same is true of freedom. Do you know people who spend their money foolishly and get nothing of value for it? I pose the question, why do you spend your money for that which is not bread? A similar question about freedom is even more profound. Do you see people spending their freedom on self-indulgences that do not build community or contribute to accumulating eternal substance? Do you spend your freedom on things that will lay up treasure in heaven?
Do you understand the concept of legacy? Have you ever received one? The heirs of someone who dies, typically their descendants, get their financial resources through inheritance. Have you ever received such a gift? Yet the concept of legacy is so much more than money. What else have others left behind that you have benefitted from? What have others invested in your life in a non-monetary way? What encouragement and character development do you realize came from without? You don’t have to die to pass on a legacy. In fact, the best parts of it can only be done while you are alive.
Have you ever taken time to wait on me for direction? How long did it take? What else did you do while you were waiting on me? I am honored if you choose to spend your free time in silence and stillness in my presence, but for longer periods of time I know that you have duties and responsibilities such as earning a living to support yourself. These things should not be considered an excuse for not waiting on me. One thing should not work in opposition to the other. Ask of me and I will make a way for you to commune with me while you carry out the necessary tasks of your life.