The Examined Life

Well, Happy New Year everyone!

Despite the holiday period I have been absolutely blogless. Not, I hasten to add, through extreme laziness – well, perhaps slightly due to that. Mostly, it is because I haven’t had a minute to collect my thoughts. Now that I am commuting again, I am able to get back into the blogging groove again.

Catching my ear this week was the title of a book featured yesterday on Andrew Marr’s ‘Start the Week’ show on BBC Radio 4. I only heard part of the discussion but I believe the book is by a Psychoanalyst. The title was what stuck – he has called his book, ‘The Examined Life’.

There is much to commend the examination of one’s life. Too often we blunder from one day to the next on auto-pilot without giving any thought as to why we are doing what we do or what the objective is that we are trying to achieve. Many of us have found enforced reflection on life to be hugely beneficial – even if it is sometimes painful. Being brought to a halt and having to consider our life can be a sobering and illuminating process.

The Bible speaks about the examined life – I suspect that is why the title resonated with me. In 2 Corinthians 13.5, the Apostle Paul writes,   “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves”. I wonder whether you are one of the many in the UK who vaguely regard themselves as ‘christian’ but are not really sure what they mean by it? The Bible makes it very clear that to be a Christian (with a capital C) is to be one who has fully acknowledged the Lordship of Jesus Christ. That is not a casual or a vague thing. It isn’t something you can be born into, fall into or be tricked into. It is a conscious, rational, responsible decision. I wonder whether you have examined this aspect of your life?

Paul also instructs genuine Christians to examine themselves. In connection with the communal ‘Breaking of Bread’ practised by the early churches he said, “let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup”, 1 Corinthians 11:28. He was instructing that no-one should partake of communion unless their life is clean before God. The consequences of failing to observe this are most serious, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.”

As will be apparent to all, our lives all fall short of God’s standard of absolute holiness. The gospel that Paul preached, however, was that “In [Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins”, Colossians 1:14. The Christian can therefore be clean before God. If we do sin we can restore our communion with God because, as the Apostle John says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”, 1 John  1:9.

What about you. Are you a nominal christian who has partaken of communion without ever examining your life? The Lord himself spoke of such, Luke  13:26,27 “Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.  But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” Perhaps it is time that you did examine your life?

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