Critiquing the Examined Life:
One of the benefits – and also liabilities – of being a writer is the constant introspection and self-examination. Writing is intrinsically contemplative. The risk, however, is to rearrange the words in the famous quote from Socrates and end up with the over-examined life is not living.
Thought – no matter how deep – is a waste of time if it does not lead to participation in actual life. Faith is the same essential equation.
My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!”? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity. – James 2:14-17
But of course “faithful activity” is best when it comes out of a disposition that is spiritually rich. Hearts and minds that develop an ear for the voice of God are more likely to serve God, to live in light and to be guided by love.
My purpose in writing is to spend time in contemplation – in relation to the scriptures, to increase my own understanding, to examine myself, to deepen my relationship with God, and to hopefully challenge and encourage others (my readers) in their own journey.
Make no mistake, this is always a journey. If you have already “arrived” then I don’t think we are talking about the same religion. This is a Christian blog, and Jesus stands as our invitation, our guide, our cheerleader, our encourager, our companion along the way, and our peace when we struggle.
For me the thinking end of the equation is a huge part of the journey – understanding my faith, questioning and probing – this is a large part of what this blog is about.
I like the way C.S. Lewis talks about doing in Mere Christianity, in reference to The Golden Rule (something he calls do-as-you-would-be-done-by): “I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbor as myself: and I cannot learn to love my neighbor as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him.”
Even my contemplation of faith, Lewis reminds me, is something that – ultimately – I have to do. And how do I learn to obey God? Well, that requires an ever-deepening knowledge of scripture, an ever-growing relationship with Jesus, an ever-increasing dependency on the Spirit, a constant commitment to humility, a willingness to risk, to step out in faith, and – always – to listen.
That’s where my head is this morning. Peace – always – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.