You know that you are saved by grace and not by works. How does this belief play out in your life? There is a school of thought that reduces this concept to a matter of intellectual assent to a list of propositional truths. Do you describe your faith as an academic abstraction? You also describe your faith as a relationship with me. So would it be more accurate to describe your faith as a matter of participation? This term seems more congruent with the idea of relationship than does assent to a list of doctrines.
You go to the store and expect to pay a price for the goods you buy. You consider your purchases and get those things that you value more than the money in your pocket. Are there other things for which you pay a price? Do you have an urge to belong? This is common to all people. Do you realize that belonging comes at a price? Any group that you would join requires accommodation to their values. So the same concept of benefit for cost is present in your associations as well as your purchases. Are you getting real community and acceptance in the places you belong?
Do you know who you are? Does this sound like an absurd question? Do you assume that you have complete knowledge of yourself? This would be a big assumption. Have you ever had anyone tell you something about yourself of which you were unaware? The search for identity, belonging, and meaning are universal human pursuits that no one can escape even if they come to bad conclusions. Do you think your true self is something that you assemble out of your life achievements, acquisitions, and accomplishments?
Are you familiar with the story of Jacob, who camped at a random place in his travels because he ran out of daylight? He didn’t think of it as a special place so he was quite surprised when he encountered me during the night. He woke up astonished and said, you were here all along and I never knew it. Do you hold the doctrine of omnipresence? This would have been too sophisticated for Jacob, but it is common today. Yet you can hold sophisticated doctrines as abstract concepts. Has the reality of my presence ever surprised you in a place where you least expected it?
Do you have a broken spirit and a contrite heart? Do you know people who do? This is something that I find very attractive. Do you know anyone that didn’t acquire it through suffering? There is no other way to get it. The normal human reaction is to seek pleasure and avoid pain, but difficulties come to all unbidden. How do you deal with yours? The normal reaction is to run away, but before you do can you pause and reflect that this too may have a meaning and purpose? If you are open to consider it you will find it, and that makes it easier to bear.
Have you ever heard of throwing the baby out with the bathwater? This is obviously a bad idea. Have you known people who rejected spirituality as a concept because they were victims of spiritual abuse or religious oppression? Unfortunately these things are real, and are not limited to one denomination or faith tradition. But spirituality is an innate characteristic of the human condition, and you don’t escape from it by walking out of a church. The impulse for transcendence still lives in every human heart. I should know, because I put it there.
Do you identify with your thoughts? Do you think you have any being apart from them? In a world with no basis but rationalism, how can you draw any distinction between your thoughts and your essential being? Yet are all your thoughts true and a perfect expression of your best and highest self? My word tells you to take every thought captive. Have you ever felt the need for this? Yet this concept only makes sense if you can see yourself as having agency apart from your thoughts. Think about what you are thinking about, and release those thoughts that don’t work in your favor.
Are you curious? What are you curious about? People with the character trait of curiosity apply it to whatever they encounter. Do you think some things are off limits? For instance, do you think that spiritual matters are already settled, or that you must have certain credentials to pursue spiritual matters? Both of these ideas are wrong. In fact, I delight in your spiritual curiosity. I want you to pursue it. Are you prepared to pursue it anywhere it leads? Trust me to guide you. If you want to know then you can assume that I want you to know. Seek and you shall find.
Are you in an organization with a leadership hierarchy? You may be in several. This is typically true in the military and in the world of commerce. There are offices and titles and you know who your commanding officer or your boss is. To a larger extent than you might expect the same type of structure is in place in churches. Have you ever been in a situation in which there was no organization, but leadership was necessary? Have you seen someone with no office or designated authority step forward to take charge when the situation called for it? Perhaps you have been this person.
Do you see any connection between spirituality and humor? Do you think there is a negative correlation? In some circles there is an assumption that true spirituality is reflected in a grim and humorless demeanor. Do you know people like this? Do you consider them to be loving? Are you attracted to them or do you avoid them? There is a place for sober solemnity, but you are given more emphatic direction to rejoice.