In order to serve a broader audience, I’m pausing the series on Christian Marriage for several weeks to consider how any person (married or not) can be whole in Christ. But, first, let’s review the biblical backdrop.
God calls us to give Him our whole life (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Matthew 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-31). And when we trust in Him, He promises His whole salvation: from the judgment we deserve, changing our hearts and minds, and leading us to live with Him, perfected in physical paradise forever (Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12, Luke 12:22-34, Acts 13:32-43). The wholeness of those commands and promises imply something: even Jesus’ followers tend to be fragmented. Let’s think about some of our tendencies.
For example, I tend to define my identity and worth by my work. Even after I’m home with my family, I sometimes still think about how I might improve a program for the unit, prepare for tomorrow’s conversations, and follow-up on some of the concerns expressed to me in counseling. By God’s gracious work in me over time, my focus is not as narrow as in the past. But it’s still a tendency that can consume me if I’m not intentional. The problem is that work is not the whole of my life or yours.
Some of you can be workaholics, too. Or you might invest virtually all of yourself in a family member, or physical fitness, or social connections, or volunteer work, or finances, or even just entertainment. Why do we do this? If we’re honest, we believe our one piece of life is life or a key means to life.
And this makes some sense. Although our human nature’s desire for independence from God results in very real problems for each of us, God created us in His image. So, we can’t help but value some of the things He values: productivity, control over chaos, personal growth and prosperity, relational intimacy, peace and joy, and more. And all of these can enjoy a measure of success in a job, family, network of friends, hobbies, etc. But when we focus on only one part, we necessarily miss the whole.
In Francis Chan’s best-seller, “Crazy Love”, he paints a picture of our individual lives being like brief supporting roles in a movie about God. Chan goes on to describe how silly it would be for any person to rent an entire theater, send formal invitations to all of their family and friends, gather strangers from the streets, and then fast-forward the film to the point at which the audience could glimpse the back of his (or her) head, replaying that millisecond over and over expecting a standing ovation for their part. Yeah, right. When we focus on our part in His story, as important as we may be, we completely miss the beauty, power, and purpose of God. (Jeremiah 9:23-24, Matthew 6:19-21, Revelation 4:10-11)
Sadly, many reject that being whole means delighting in God with all that we are and have. (Psalm 2, Matthew 21:33-46, etc.) Before watching this week’s video, discuss the following.
- Read Matt 10:42, Mark 12:41-44, Luke 7:36ff on being whole in even small things.
- What part of your life gets so much focus that you neglect loving God in Christ?
- Why would delighting in Him bring more wholeness than any focus in the world?
If Jesus had fragmented His life, how might Matthew 14:1-21 have gone differently? Be specific.
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