I had an interesting conversation yesterday afternoon that started with talking about God’s character, and turned to the question of “integration.”
The discussion focused on the reality that we as believers, and maybe especially in Western culture/ mindset., like to Pigeon-hole things. In other words, we like our lives to be broken into manageable segments. We have the “work” part of our lives, the “family” part of our lives, the “religious or church” part of our lives, and on and on it goes. This includes God. We have the tendency to keep Him safely in His own room, but we don’t necessarily let Him wander around in the other parts of our lives. So we are ok with leaving Him out of the workplace, politics, recreation and sports. He belongs in church on Sundays. He has His place. We don’t say it that way, but we live that way.
That might seem a bit crass, but the reality is that we tend toward that more than we care to admit. Our conversation eventually turned to the issue of how tightly we hold to our theological convictions. Whether we are a Calvinist, or an Armenian, pre-Trib, post-Trib or whatever… sometimes we argue these convictions as if God’s future, depended on it. It seems sometimes that those who argue the most vigorously seem to do so out of an insecurity that if their “system” were ever to not fit together perfectly, it would all come crashing down around them. There is no room for “not knowing.”
Now before you get all hot and bothered and think that I am against systems of belief and theological understanding, let me assure you that is not what I am saying. My major in seminary was in Systematic Theology. Paul wrote the book of Romans, inspired by the Holy Spirit, as one of the greatest books of theology we have in the Bible. It’s not “having” a system that is the problem. It is holding to a system so tightly that we act, whether we mean to or not, as though we have God all figured out. And when you say it like that, most of us would realize that is the height of arrogance. Let us make sure that we first of all allow ourselves the reality of not knowing everything about our infinite God. And secondly, let’s tear down the walls that we have built to keep God in our tightly organized boxes. It’s ok not to know!
What does this have to do with integration? It goes back to my initial premise, that when we talk about revival and transformation, we must begin at the beginning, and that beginning is what Jesus called the “First and Great Commandment,” to love the Lord with ALL our heart, and ALL our soul, and ALL our mind. I would say that is pretty much integration. God is not interested in being kept in a box in our lives, whether that is a box of moral exclusion, or a box of theological systems. Why is it that people like George Barna keep showing us as believers that we are really not any different in our lifestyles than the “world?” It is because we are not integrated. Or better put, we have not known how to integrate God into every area of our lives and allow Him the freedom to be God in every part. It is because we do not love Him with ALL our being, every part of who we are. And maybe we don’t really believe that He loves us enough that whatever He does an allows in our lives have the ultimate purpose of our best.
Our first reaction to this idea of integration might be to resist it, or think we don’t need to deal with it, Jesus is Lord of my life, thank you very much. But this is where it gets a little tricky. Webster defines integration as: coordination of mental processes into a normal effective personality or with the individual’s environment. If we add to that the spiritual processes, then we begin to see the challenge to allow the “who” of who God is to be what coordinates all of the part of our personality, and environment. You see? Love the Lord with ALL… integrate His love, His ways, His Grace, His Mercy… ALL of who He is into ALL of who we are. You see, God is totally and fully integrated in Himself. We are created in His image. He made us to be wholly integrated. The effects of sin have chopped us into separate pieces. A part of His redemptive purpose is to make us once again whole and integrated.
How is it with you? Are you in the process of allowing God to be integrated into every area of your life? Take some time to ask Him to show you where there is still fragmentation. He will delight to show you if you are sincere in asking. His will is for you to be wholly integrated and be able to love Him with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, and ALL your mind.
…till next time…