Faith Without Compartments
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but clothes are being made smaller these days. For that reason and others, I’m working to get down to a lower size. I was shopping last weekend with my girls. They are getting to the age where it’s enjoyable to do girly things together. I was modeling for them while they sat on the plush, dressing room sofa with two young adult hostesses standing by. I was somewhat confident in trying on the smaller sizes, smaller for me, when toward the end of my show, one of the young girls, brought two shirts and said something to the tune of Here are two extra-large tops you may want to try. Scotty Smith says, “Do whatever you can to make sure your criticisms come across more like a life-giving-rebuke than a drive-by-shooting.” Well, what may have seemed like a cool drink of water to this lean, young girl, felt like a whizzing cap grazing my cheek, momentarily undoing a few weeks of hard work and consistency. The call is to press on.
Why I press on is because if anything has been impressed on my heart over the last years, it’s that the Christian life cannot be compartmentalized. I cannot put different areas of my life in nice, organized containers and choose which ones I hand to God. Here God, you can have_______________ but don’t take _______________. You are free to enter this room, but you have no place in that room.
Holistically, my life is God’s — my body, my marriage, my spirit, my children, my mind, my possessions — all.
Beliefs cannot be compartmentalized to faith. They have to pervade the whole of our being/living without inconsistency. Examples would be: Counseling one set of standards to the couples on my couch but living differently in my marriage (which has totally happened). An elder showing grace in his church then treating his employees at work harshly. Speaking love on Sunday but showing no regard for a neighbor any other day of the week.
For the Christ-follower, God not only owns Sunday, he owns Monday-Friday. He not only owns the 10%, he owns the checkbook, the savings, the 401K, the American Express. God not only owns the kind words uttered at Bible study, he owns the words uttered in the privacy of home to family members – those said out loud and those in thought. He owns our heart concerning racism, classism and nationalism. He owns our diet, our politics, our marriages, our schools, all. Pursuit of happiness and comfort do not overrule the Lordship of Christ in any area. Faith cannot be compartmentalized.
The grace of this all is the chipping. First, all has been accomplished on our behalf by Christ. But also, God is gentle in changing our desires to be his. He is gracious in revealing areas that need to be handed to him, and that work will never cease.
Compartments assume that things do not run together. Not so with the Christian life. All areas of our life bleed over into the next. They can’t help but affect each other. That is the goodness of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Jesus breathed him into us, and he permeates every inch of our being and doing.
No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true. – Nathaniel Hawthorne