As technology, ideas and the world itself moves ever forward, the
christian church has been grappling with the difficult questions. It has always been like this and I suspect it will continue to be like this. The more learned write papers and books, the less learned read them. Many of us blog, tweet and post Facebook statuses. Teachers teach and preachers preach and ideas and attitudes change or not depending on who is the most influential. I wonder if in all the struggling with the difficult questions, that we missed the point, that we have missed the central question of it all?
Throughout the NT we see Jesus ask questions, tell stories, live His life by and even on occasion simply teach principles to live by and emulate. Jesus is continually calling, encouraging and even perhaps begging us to self examination and reflection for the purpose of those things leading to transformation. In many ways, arguably the most famous teachings of Jesus in the sermon on the mount found in Matthew chapters 5-7 is a self examination checklist. Is my life reflecting these teachings? Am I the salt of the earth? Am I light? A peacemaker, do I mourn, do I really hunger and thirst for righteousness? It goes on.
John Wesley is credited with opening his group meetings with this somewhat famous question: “How is it with your soul?” The purpose was actually rather simple. It goes deeper than how are you doing, it goes deeper than how are the wife and kids, it goes deeper than how is the job. It cuts directly to the central question in the journey of faith. How is it with your soul? How is the transformation process going in your life? So, your heart was strangely warmed- great- what has come next? Before any teaching on the difficult things, before any grappling with the times and our place in them as Christians, there was the central question – the question Jesus kept referring us to as well- How is it with your soul?
United Methodist churches and authors have written volumes on the subject and encouraged us to ask each other the question to keep ourselves honest. When was the last time someone asked you? No one has asked me. I have often been asked my stance on the bible, on free will, on predetermination, on the sacraments as a means of grace, on foot washing, etc. but not really the central question. Lately it has all centered on the question of what my stance on homosexuality is. How sad is it that in this day and age, after several thousand years to have the ability to examine the importance of the central question that seemingly everyone is asking what is your stance on homosexuality, and seemingly no one is asking how is it with your soul?