An earlier post mentioned the prominence of self-examination questions in Wesley’s first publication. Such questions were a part of his devotional practice throughout his adult life. I’ve been trying to incorporate the practice into my devotions using self-examination questions based on some written by E. Stanley Jones.
The questions below are from a section of his book, Victorious Living, in which he reflects on the need to turn our ideals of social justice into reality. Failing to hold together the ideal and the real, reduces idealism into nothing more than a mental compensation, in the opinion of Jones. The ability to think noble thoughts is enough to satisfy the idealistic urges of those without realism. The longing for justice never motivates such people to advocate for justice because they find that the act of reflecting on justice sufficiently satisfies their idealistic desires.
The self-examination questions are meant to ground our ideals in the reality that Christ is establishing--
In what direction is my face turned? Am I really inwardly set against ghastly inequalities between people? Am I inwardly committed to the wiping out of distinctions based on class and color? Have I inwardly renounced war? Am I inwardly free from the dominance of narrow nationalism? Am I inwardly set against all exploitation of people? Do I want to see all people free?
What steps am I taking toward the making real of these inner attitudes in outer life? As far as it depends on me and on the circumstances which I control, am I here and now taking steps to end the things that are wrong? Am I going as far as I can in realizing the things that are right? I may not be at the goal, but am I on the way, with the consent of my whole being? Am I prepared to put a “now” in all these intentions?
This section of the devotional includes this prayer--
“O Christ of the kindly searching eye, we open our lives to Thy gaze, and we open our wills to Thy full obedience. Help us to be completely honest and completely responsive. Then we can go forward. Amen”