No compartmentalizing — all in with God
This week many of us will celebrate the Fourth of July holiday with some fireworks, camping, activities at the lake or a family get-together.
There is an abundance of options for the extra day off from work, but picnics are my favorite. Not only do they provide a connection with family and friends, but there seems to be a never-ending supply of delicacies — grilled meats, fruit salads, veggies, homemade pies, chips, dips … all spread before my eyes on a gingham-draped picnic table.
There is just one problem with a feast like this: no regular plate will do. I can deal with foam, Tupperware, Chinet, plastic, or paper, but no matter what the plate is made of, it must have compartments. It is a gross misdemeanor to have a sweet fruit salad nestled up against a spicy taco salad, or even worse, salty condiments finding their way onto Grandma’s homemade pie. And who wants their salad dressing making a soggy mess of their bun? Yuck! I know that it all goes to the same place, but I like the things I put in my mouth to be separate from each other. I don’t want one flavor to overlap another.
We tend to do the same thing with our lives. We isolate and divide. We separate our space, desiring our own bedroom, our own bathroom, our own vehicle, and our own office. We divide our commitments, not wanting our job to interfere with our family time, or our kids to interfere with “me” time. We segregate our loyalties and don't want political views and spiritual beliefs to overlap and get messy. Everything is easiest if we can keep it compartmentalized and evenly distributed.
But God isn't big on compartments. He's a God of wholeness. He wants our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Not one piece, once in a while. He wants all of us all the time. He can't be contained to Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. He doesn't just fit our schedules on Christmas Eve and Easter morning. He is God yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He is God at church, at our workplace, at the bar, at the playground, at the prison, at the hospital, at home.
Philippians 1:27 reads, "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." It doesn't excuse our words and actions when someone cuts us off in traffic, or when it's been a long week and we just need to unwind, or when we just need a bit of sunshine and the rain to stop, or when the kids are driving us nuts. We are called to live our lives completely connected to Jesus Christ. No matter what. No divisions. No compartments. No categories.
In the 86th Psalm, David prays these words: "Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” David knows the aimless tendencies of the human heart. He asks God to unify and inhabit all areas of his life. May the same be said of us.
So go ahead and separate your pickles and your pie. Keep your pudding away from your pasta. But don't try to keep your spiritual life separate from the rest of your life. Let God’s love for you and your gratitude to him flow and mingle and affect everything that you think, do, and say.