"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves." 2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
If you've ever been to a 12-step meeting (AA, NA, CODA, Alanon), you may have noticed a strange thing: here people come together in a group, each to work on their own stuff, to work on themselves.
They get together to engage in self-examination before and with others who know their journey. How am I doing with this challenge? What is triggering me right now? Where do I need to offer apology? What practice that I said I wanted in my life has sort of gotten lost?
It's really all about doing your own work, examining yourself, in the company of other people who are also committed to similar transforming work in their own lives.
And, often, as people do their own work, and by their presence and silent witness support you in doing yours, miracles happen. God moves. Unwilling eyes see. Frozen, paralyzed inner places ease and open. The stooped-over stand. A smile redraws a barren facial landscape.
It truly is the strangest and most wonderful thing. I don't understand it. But I have witnessed it. I have experienced it.
If you've been party to this sort of thing, Paul's words to the people at Corinth may have a special resonance. He urges the Corinthians to "examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith."
Could the church learn from this? Could we be more a place where each one is doing their own work of transformation with God's help and others' support?
Let's try it, you and I, for this one day. Maybe not all day, but at least for a chunk of it, ease up on the kids, on the co-workers, the politicians, the neighbors, the spouse, and just do your own work as honestly and courageously as you can.
Holy One, you give us the power, the grace, to do the hard work of transformation in our own lives. We're asking. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. He is the author of many books, including What’s Theology Got to Do With It: Convictions, Vitality and the Church. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.