Living an Undivided Life

A photo by Dietmar Becker. unsplash.com/photos/8Zt0xOOK4nI

It’s easy for people to pick on teenagers for having such a clear distinction between who they are with their different friendship groups. We all know someone who is totally different person depending on who else is around.

While it might be most obvious with teenagers, aren’t we all like that to some degree? Think about it…

  • If your church friends saw you at work/school, what would they think?
  • If your work/school friends heard you at church, would they be surprised?

God calls us to whole-hearted and undivided people who love and honor him. If that’s what we want, then it’s good to take a moment from time to time and recalibrate.

We can easily allow our “Christian life” to be expressed here and our “normal life” to be lived over there. Instead, what would it look like for us to live one faithful life? 

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my favorite theologians to read since he blends the theological and pastoral so brilliantly. The following quote is from his book, Ethics, where he reflects on the division so many of us embrace (often without even realizing it).

“The division of the total reality into a sacred and a profane sphere, a Christian and a secular sphere, creates the possibility of existence in a single one of these spheres, a spiritual existence which has no part in secular existence, and a secular existence which can claim autonomy for itself and can exercise this right of autonomy in its dealing with the spiritual sphere.

“…So long as Christ and the world are conceived as two opposing and mutually repellent spheres, man will be left in the following dilemma: he abandons reality as a whole, and places himself in one or the other of the two spheres.  He seeks Christ without the world, or he seeks the world without Christ.  In either case he is deceiving himself.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Ethics (italics added for emphasis)

When there’s a “church me” and a “work me” or a “school me” or whatever… there’s a big problem with my faith. The gospel doesn’t only save our spirit, it shapes our lives and calls us to live with a single-minded devotion to Christ.

See what the Bible says,

“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” Matthew 6:24 (ESV)

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17 (ESV)

If we fail to understand how the gospel shapes our whole lives, we’ll be tempted to live in two spheres (as Bonhoeffer put it). In one sphere will be our “faith” and in the other will be our “real life.” So many of us embrace this idea of “the sacred” vs. “the secular.” Guess where God belongs? This division is totally bogus and unbiblical.

Matt Smethurst wrote a post on The Gospel Coalition entitled, When the Gospel Transforms Your 9 to 5. It’s a really good and helpful piece on seeing work as worship.

May we live one undivided life, marked by worship. Below are three suggestions to help.

  • Pray. Yes, I am aware this is such an obvious cliche. But it does begin with prayer. Living in each moment with a prayerful desire to be filled with the joy of Christ as you honor him with whatever we’re doing (washing dishes, doing homework, going to soccer practice, attending a meeting, sitting in traffic on your way home from work, etc.).
  • Check your attitude. If you’ve decided God has nothing to do with your work/school/etc., then don’t be surprised when you lack a joyful spirit. Ask God to change your attitude and to help you experience his joy throughout your day, and seek to do things in a way that honors God and serves others.
  • Invite friends into the conversation. Ask a trusted Christian friend (or spouse) to speak honestly into your life about where they might see division in your life. Seek their counsel on how to pursue Christ more faithfully in those places. Speak Scripture into each other’s lives and pray for each other. Don’t do it alone.

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