January 2, 2018

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in faith; test yourselves…. realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?” -2 Corinthians 13:5

So, did you or do you ever, “Examine yourself” as the Apostle Paul suggests? And, for those who actually make this an integral part of their faith journey, do you, as I do, find this a not so easy endeavor? In my business life, we used to say, “we’re not going to expect the solution from the one who caused the problem.” Apply this logic to Paul’s directive to “examine ourselves” and we run into that same issue. In other words, if I am not passing the test, how will I know? After all, I would be the one responsible for whatever behavior caused me to fail the test. And, more to the point, how will I know what I can do to correct my mistakes? I wrestle with this continually. Am I or am I not in faith? And, what does that really look like? The world distracts us in so many ways, which, oftentimes, we cannot readily discern. After all, even Christian voices can lead us astray…do this, don’t do that, pray such and such. Seems like we get way too caught up in chasing expectations of others…real or unreal…instead of God’s. If we are not careful, that is, skew too far away from being in faith, it becomes a form of idolatry, albeit a subtle form. Am I or am I not in faith, that is the question? And, when I do examine myself, what does it look like?

As a Christian, I would like to think I will find the answers to these questions. Perhaps that doesn’t happen in this life. Nonetheless, to those who struggle with this as I do, let’s do what we can know for sure. Pray, trust and be grateful. I may not know if my thoughts are put there by God himself, or my giving the world a little too much time to get into my head. But I do think that if I pray often with a spirit of gratitude, asking for clarity in my self-examinations, giving my doubts up to trust that, in spite of my confusion on the subject, I will deepen my faith. In the meantime, I will double my efforts to remember the directive given to all us Christians in the 23rd Psalm where we can joyfully profess our trust in the Lord…which may mean reciting it every day. Because, you see, I have no desire to “fail the test”.

Jim Holman, St. Luke’s Member