How are you doing?
An easy question to answer, right? And probably the question we get asked more than any other. So, if it’s such an easy, and seemingly innocent question, why would I struggle with it? I know…mad, right?
Believe it or not, this little question has caused a bit of brouhaha (yes, it’s a word) on the aul’ web. Forbes magazine actually seeks its demise… “The only reason most of us ask this question is because it would appear impolite not to ask. We usually ask it as a greeting rather than with the intent of actually acquiring information about the other person.”
A simple greeting perhaps, but with its many guises, it can paralyse even the most confident, as they seek to avoid any disclosure that would betray underlying currents. This is evident, particularly in church life and, in comparing yourself to others’ outward presentations or their expectations, we are left wondering, “How am I doing? What am I doing?” Regardless of who asks or how we actually feel inside, we tend to give an insincere reply, mostly to avoid any further probing from the petitioning party.
How do you feel then, when asked, even by a kindred heart? Do you struggle to express what is for you, a very real situation or do you just give an evasive and yet polite reply?
In my insecure days of needing to be loved and adored by all, I usually went to the other extreme, and let people know exactly how I was doing, thinking they cared enough to listen. Gafaw! Even Christian friends soon glazed over with boredom as I elaborated. Way to win friends, me!
“How are you doing?” soon transmogrified into a dirty word…or four. I would inevitably get asked, but always there came a heaviness, a sense of obligation for my being accountable – a counterfeit accountability – and a heaviness. Did I mention it was heavy? You see the question may seem innocuous enough, but it can stem from and awaken an old religious mindset of performance and works, self-effort and self-reliance. The focus of this question is you, and your own efforts at navigating life. It wants to assess your performance and your ability to cope.
As Christians, we interpret this question as pertaining to our relationship with God, and subliminally search frantically for what the appropriate response should be in fluent Christianese. Your relationship with Father is suddenly on trial; your walk is under scrutiny. Erroneously thinking we initiated the relationship upon our invitation, we have to ensure God is kept happy and appeased; but woe to you if you mess up, as all will come crashing down around you as you are once again out of favour and fallen from Grace. Am I doing enough? Reading the Bible enough? Praying enough? Journalling enough? Loving Him enough? Worshipping enough? A religious mindset places you firmly outside of fellowship with God, alienated from His approval, adoration and love. You see yourself falling way short in living a perfect Christian life. Looking to ourselves we try harder as it’s all about me and my performance. Legalism and religion can only bring you condemnation and a sense of obligation and indebtedness.
There is hope.
A more important question to ask, renders those original four, dirty words null and void. The focus is no longer you or your performance. Phew! And, amazingly the answer is always the same! Oh, and it is wonderfully, good news, and just happens to be a great reminder of how adored you are, and of the finished work of the Cross of Jesus Christ and the Gospel of Grace.
So, let me ask this particular question of you concerning your relationship with Father, “Where are you?” Or perhaps, more accurate may be the question, “Do you know where you really are?”
May I suggest that, perhaps, we are forgetting where we are; let alone, whose we are?
Father asked this question of the very first apple (?) farmers, Adam and Eve, and now after Jesus’ finished work on the Cross, Father is asking us again…this time, to awaken us to the reality of our oneness with Him!
Our awareness and realisation of where we are will increase our trust in His goodness, shape what we believe and how we think and, therefore, how we live life. He takes care of the “how” and the “do”. It’s called, Grace.
You may know it already, but perhaps you have yet to be awakened to and enlightened by the most amazing reality of all: you are in Christ Jesus, the ascended Christ Jesus, and He is in you!
Jesus stated that there will come a day when we realise that He is in the Father and we are in Him and He in us! Cue mind blow. Jesus resides – and always has resided – in Father’s bosom sharing in the astounding, beautiful romance of Father and Son, in Holy Spirit. And you, yes you – regardless of your knowing it, experiencing it or even understanding it – you are in Him now, seated with Him in Heavenly places partaking of that Divine romance! And all because of Christ’s finished work on the Cross. It has nothing whatsoever to do with you, your own efforts, sacrifices, or vain attempts at gaining a righteousness before God. The focus is now Christ and His finished work! Permission to breathe!
Not poetry, not just nice words or religious jargon to soothe the tired and weary soul of the struggling pilgrim, but Truth! Knowing it, liberates us! Once we truly grasp our new identity in Christ (or let it grasp us, I suppose) we can simply relax into the reality of our intimacy with the Triune God and allow Holy Spirit to work in and through us, bringing forth His fruit. That, to me, is what ministry is. A resting, abiding and fruitful intimacy that spills over into the heart of the next person you are with.
So next time you get asked by someone, “How are you doing?”, remember, it’s not about your doing at all! Know where you are and why, and see yourself as God sees you! His is the only opinion of you, that matters. You are His beloved! Let Him do all…let Grace do all. Your role? Rest, knowing where you are and whose you are. Abundant fruit will follow…Oh, and He gets all the Glory!
As He is