In both of his Corinthian letters, the apostle encourages the Corinthian believers to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith. It is, to be sure, a wholesome discipline. In these blogs in recent weeks I have been setting forth that the church is the communal form of God’s new creation, of his new humanity. It is healthy to do just that, even as it is worthwhile to get a physical examination periodically. There is a whole plethora of questions which we might ask ourselves about our embrace of Christ and his new creation, as well as about our understanding of what makes our participation in the whole Christian enterprise authentic. I offer a few in this blog.

This can begin with the very basic question about our faith-relationship to Jesus Christ. I still chuckle at the occasion when my (late) wife, Betty, and I had been invited to a dinner with a couple of seminary professors and their wives. The two professors and I were all over the map doing “clergy-theological talk,” … when in a lull in the conversation, my wife across the table from one of them, asked: “Marty, how did you come to know Jesus as your savior?” His mouth dropped open, and he grinned. “Betty, I’ve been on this theological faculty for four years and nobody has ever asked me that basic question.” Thereupon, he gave a most convincing statement of his life-changing encounter with Jesus. That’s the basic question in one’s healthy self-examination. But it also leads to other healthy questions, such as:

  • Do I understand the awesome implication implicit in God’s inaugurating his new creation through Christ into this old creation ,what with all its indifference, broken relationships, and cultural darkness that are so much our daily existence?
  • Do I understand that the church Jesus Christ is building is to be the communal expression of that new creation, of God’s new humanity that is formed by a radical and redemptive new frame of reference (that’s what repentance is all about)?
  • Have I embraced Christ: his life, his death, his resurrection, and his teachings, expressed in my life through my intentional turning to this new frame of reference which is necessary to transform me into a child of the Light? Do I understand the necessity of his Spirit dwelling in me to enable this transformation to be dynamic in my life?
  • Can I accept the transformational grace of God in Christ in which God is in process of conforming me to the image of his Son, … and that I am not some other real or imagined ‘saint’/Christian, but am his unique child? That I am set free in Christ?
  • Am I a part of a real community of other believers for whom and to whom I am accountable I love? in whom the word of Christ dwells richly so that we can “teach and admonish one another’ in love?
  • … that I cannot be an anonymous participant in a church institution, and so avoid my place as a dynamic, functioning, ministering person in that community of God’s new humanity?
  • That my own ‘mission field’ is the ordinary, daily, 24/7 context in which I operate: family, home, neighborhood, workplace, school, athletic/social club, … and that it is there that I become “the missionary arm of the Holy Trinity”?

… for starts … You can add your own self-examining prayers for those specifics that will make you to be an authentic and contagious new humanity person. There should be no hiding places in our lives. Ask God to shine the light into your personal areas of doubt, inauthenticity, confusion or mistaken notions. This is a healthy discipline. We can only become a truly missional church with such transparent authenticity. There needs to be a “hands down, no-hold-barred, honest and informed faith”… in all that Jesus came to be and to do in us. Got it?

About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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  1. Breck Castleman says:

    Well said, Bob.

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