The phrases ‘christian life’, ‘spiritual life’, ‘family life’, ‘work life’, ‘prayer life’, ‘devotional life’ and many others are very common. What I’m talking about is our tendency to divide up our lives into bits that don’t blend together or overflow into one another. It’s when the various ‘parts’ of your life have little or no effect on the other ‘parts.’I’d like to (big surprise) focus on the Jesus ‘part’ of our lives. Why? Because I believe that the person of Jesus, with all of the depths of meaning that He embodies, ought to have no small effect on our lives. We should not be able to encounter Him as He truly is and not be shaped, challenged and moulded! How is it that He so often doesn’t have this effect on us?
Among the many things that keep Jesus from having His full effect on us, I wonder if a significant barrier to us being re-worked by Him may be our tendency to (perhaps unintentionally) divide our lives into bits. Here are a few ways that I think we do this…
Spiritual v. un-spiritual
While most of us would agree with the statement that our whole lives are meant to be ‘spiritual’, we still attach a greater spirituality to some parts of our lives than we do to other parts. Activities such as church services, conferences, bible-study and the like are seen to constitute our ‘spiritual life’ while ones like eating, working or driving are ‘just life.’
I think this is deeply problematic. Our entire lives are meant to be ‘spiritual.’ We don’t hop and skip from one spiritual moment to another, instead we are to be continually being filled with God’s Spirit and continually overflowing in service, life and love to God, others and the world. And this continual spirituality isn’t necessarily always dramatic or emotional. I think that some of the most spiritual people in the world live gloriously unspectacular and wondrously normal lives. Our whole lives are spiritual.
Most of us have heard Matt Redman’s song ‘Blessed Be Your Name’ by now, so we’re familiar with the reminder from the story of Job. Praise God in the good and the bad. We agree with this mentally. Fine. That’s great. But why do we still tend to attach greater spirituality to the ‘happy’ moments? Something great happens and someone says, “God is great!” After an exciting worship-singing time someone reports, “God showed up!” I’m thinking that God is always good, and that He hasn’t gone anywhere.
Knowing God with heart, soul, mind and strength means more than just agreeing with theological statements. It has less to do with being the most exited person in a church service. It has more to do with how you live outside the church service.
God is in this place?
Every Sunday morning, we often hear someone thank God for ‘being with us’ or hear a prayer that God would ‘meet us here.’ I understand the concept of God ‘drawing near’, but when we attach a greater spirituality to our church building on Sunday morning, we’ve taken this too far. I’ve heard people pray before church services for ‘hearts to be changed as people enter the building.’ This a good example of seeing the church building as too important. It’s not that the church building doesn’t matter at all, it’s just that it ought not to matter any more than the rest of God’s creation.
Jesus told the Samaritan woman that the time was coming and had already come that worshipping God wasn’t about being in the right place (Samaria or Jerusalem – see John 4), but about knowing who we worship – God. Spirit and Truth know no boundaries. And in case you’re wondering, the church building is NOT the modern day equivalent of the Temple in Jerusalem. Our bodies are. That, my friends, ought to make us stop and think.
Our lives aren’t the sum of a bunch of parts, but is meant to be entirely spiritual. Paul says that our lives are ‘hidden with Christ in God.’ May we live every moment in Him. May Jesus our Lord be truly ‘Lord of all’ in our entire lives. May He reign in us totally and wholly.