Questions To Focus Our Lives
October 27, 2021
I’m teaching this short class for our church right now in which we unpack different aspects of American Evangelicalism and look for paths forward to a new Christianity. Here’s something I’m thinking about during this class.
As we let go of some certainties and dogma and open our minds to new ways of thinking, we can gain humility and truth in different ways. But sometimes we can also lose anchors of meaning and purpose. We can feel more adrift and less happy. Growth is good, but it can be hard too.
So let me share just three of the kinds of questions I’ve been led to ask regularly in my life – the kinds of questions that guide me into meaning and purpose without putting my head in the sand or refusing to grow or change.
- How does God love me today, and how am I loving myself? How am I welcoming rest and pleasure and self-compassion and wonder into my life?
- Who and what are most important, and how am I saying yes to that? Who and what are not important, and how am I saying no to that?
- Who and what am I giving myself to this week? How am I taking my big ideas about the good life and making them small – living them out in real relationships and concrete choices?
Questions like these remind me of what’s most important in life.
They nudge me toward love, justice, and mercy while also nudging me toward joy, hope, and gratitude. They bear a curious resemblance to Jesus’ way of love, truth, and meaning, when he taught that the purpose of life – and the point of all God has said – is to love God with our whole selves and to love our neighbor as ourselves. (I’ve rephrased Jesus’ words so that we don’t lose sight of welcoming God’s love into our lives – and to focus the commands to love God and neighbor in some contemporary ways that stir our minds and hearts a bit.)
These are just my versions of the questions this week. I’d encourage you to try them out if they resonate with you, or to pay attention to Jesus’ ethic of love, or your own ways of rephrasing that for yourself. When Jesus says he came to seek and save the lost, I think that one thing he means is that he wants us to know Jesus as a North Star, a guide and mentor and help toward purpose and meaning, hope and joy. If you find these questions help you in some way, let me know!