I am excited about the opportunity to be taking on the responsibility of resourcing for Covenant Discipleship. I am, however, well aware I won’t be able to do that role to the degree and with the expertise that Steve Manskar did. Though I’ve been fortunate enough to have been in a Covenant Discipleship group with Steve for the last two years, I still feel like a novice.
You can understand why I was more than excited to join Steve for a Covenant Discipleship training he conducted for the Metro District of the Western North Carolina Conference at University City UMC just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. While the training gave me lots to ponder, here is one of the thoughts that struck me.
When Steve was discussing the central question for historic Methodist class meetings, “How is it with your soul?” I remembered the original language for the question was different. “How is it with your soul?” is a modern paraphrase of the original question, “How does your soul prosper?”
How is it with your soul?” is a modern paraphrase of the original question, “How does your soul prosper?”
Since I wasn’t conducting the training, I was free to pondered on the differences created by the change in wording. It struck me was that these are not necessarily synonymous questions. The modern phrasing, “How is it with your soul?” can at least be interpreted to be an inquiry into the state of our being or soul. The original phrasing, “How does your soul prosper?” can be read to focus more on how our soul or being is growing or moving forward (“prospering”). To put it slightly differently, with the modern phrasing I could answer that question in a way that’s more about my current state or feelings. Answering the original question could result in an answer that’s more focused on how my discipleship is progressing.
By no means am I advocating we should resort to the original phrasing or that one way of phrasing is more correct than another. It also occurs to me how the use of the word prospering has changed from Wesley’s time to today in a more capitalistic environment. We tend to associate prospering with financial and materialistic wealth.
My only real insight here is to be clear what sort of answer we’re looking for when we ask the question “How is it with your soul?” That is to say, an answer that is focused on how our lives are growing closer to the image of Christ. As John Wesley taught, we are either growing in grace or declining. Thus, our answers to “How is it with your soul?” should aim beyond a current state or feeling but how we are progressing in working out our salvation.