Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.
“How is it with your soul?”
That’s a Wesleyan question that we Methodists still throw around occasionally. It comes from John Wesley himself and was the central question for historic Methodist class meetings, these small and intimate gatherings of Christians who were concerned with what it actually meant to be Christian. The question confronts us in our faith such that we must reckon with what God’s grace is doing to us.
And yet, we don’t ask that question, or questions like it, anymore. Sure, in the context of a Bible study or a small group ostensibly gathering in the name of Christ, you might hear a question like it but in our day to day discipleship, it’s nowhere to be found.
The relativization of the faith to the private sphere has resulted in a form of discipleship that is largely divorced from Christ’s call to take up our cross and follow. Put another way, if our faith is merely something we do on Sundays then it doesn’t really have anything to do with the One who makes our faith intelligible.
In Paul’s letter to the church in Rome he confronts the embodied nature of the faith with physical language about “standing in grace” and “boasting in our hope.” Something has been done to us and, as such, we have an assurance that we can live differently because of it. And that something has a name: Jesus.
Frederick Buechner, author/pastor/theologian once said:
“Nice people don’t talk about religion. Or so the thinking goes. That’s why, when I taught at Wheaton College, it was so refreshing. There were people there who talked about it ALL THE TIME. It was almost too much and hard to take. It was as if they had Jesus in their hip pocket, and all they had to do was take him out and he would tell them where to find a parking space. But, on the other hand, they were able to ask, “What is Jesus doing in your life this week?” Marvelous! I believe God is doing something in everyone’s life every moment! But the idea of asking that question in certain places with certain people, it’s like the sky would fall in, the house would catch fire, and I would never be asked out again. In other words, people don’t ask about our experiences of grace, but perhaps they should.”
I wonder, therefore, how differently the church would look were we willing to ask that all too important question, “What is Jesus doing in your life this week?” If the faith we proclaim on Sundays is indeed the faith revealed to us in the person of Christ, then there are manifold implications for how Christ is guiding, shaping, and moving in our midst. Particularly since worship isn’t as much about what we do, but more about what we do in response to all that God has done, is doing, and will do.
Basically, it comes down to a matter of agency: Do we believe that God is active in our lives, or do we consider ourselves the primary movers and shakers?
Perhaps asking the question is the way in which we can open our eyes and ears to Christ’s actions in our lives. And maybe, being able to ask the question at all is what makes faith, faith.
And so, what is Jesus doing in your life this week?