The Training Table: “The Power of Pictures and Pithy Paradigms”-4
“The Power of Pictures and Pithy Paradigms” is a series of timeless truims—each of which will serve to reinforce the Feast of the Heart Vision, Mission, and the main motivation for my own life in Christ and love for those He places in my life.
Everyone reformed, revived, a constructive revolutionary!
Feast of the Heart exists to help bring about Christ-centered “reformation, revival, and constructive revolution” (Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City) so that God will be glorified and people blessed.
Reformation… we seek to abide by and serve up the true truth of the Bible.
Revival… we seek to model biblical Christians living in word and deed.
Constructive Revolution… we seek to spread the true gospel right where God has planted us with urgency, compassion, and radical self-abandonment.
I love the insight and experience of the French philosopher and Jesuit Priest Teilhard de Chardin:
“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
It’s one of those claims that elicits the sort of response that, on the one hand, we’re surprised by a pithy paradigm shift of grand proportions, but, on the other hand, we could easily say, “Well duh! That makes all the sense in the world.”
So which is it: A big ‘ol “Duh!” or “Holy crud, what an astounding reminder!” Perhaps it’s both. It all depends on one’s perspective.
And even though there are many responses we could gather from all sorts of people, it’s important to see that if / when this claim comes to rest on our own post-modern and increasingly humanistic* culture it’s a claim that can powerfully polarize our thinking, right? *”Humanism is a progressive worldview that, since the supernatural doesn’t exist, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity.” (American Humanist Association)
It’s like, “Wait just a minute. Isn’t it settled fact that human beings are at the center of the universe? Everyone knows that. And if there’s a God at all he/she is whatever anyone’s personal preference decides to make of God, right? After all, it’s my humanity and freedom to choose whatever form of spirituality I please that’s ‘the tail that wags the dog’; not the other way around, right…? I mean since all roads lead to God what difference does it make?”
If you think about it, humanism is the second oldest religion, right? It began in the garden (Genesis 3) and in the hearts of humankind with, “Did God really say?” (Genesis 3:1) Sin and sinning begins with having taken God out of His rightful place as King on the throne of our heart and putting ourselves in God’s place. Hence, let the deconstruction and fragmentation of being holistic beings begin! Things began to fall apart a good-while back…
The fact of the matter is that God is spirit, human beings are His Image Bearers, and as such we are first Spiritual beings, and all else follows: Social-Emotional. Psychological-Mental. Physical. Our spirituality is actually “the tail that wags the dog”—and all else in our lives flow out of how we treat THAT—our spiritual origin, identity, and every word and deed in life that follows.
It matters little if we have the deepest, most passionate desire for a Bald Eagle to take on the life and attributes of a doorstop… It’s a marvelous and specifically equipped eagle FIRST. So let it fly, my fellow feasters running the good race: We are first Image Bearers of God (Genesis 1:1-31); due to Sin entering the universe, we have all fallen short of that original identity (Romans 3); but in Christ we can recoup our identity and take off as if on eagle’s wings again (2 Corinthians 5:17; Isaiah 40:31)!
How Life Works.
Two anecdotes came to mind as I began to write this piece: First, my leadership coaching model and second, stories, and “everyday encounters of the human kind.”
In a very general way, given our free will choice to do so or not, we can bring our whole and holistic selves to all realms of our life or try and compartmentalize the God-created and integrated parts of our identity by: a) being super-vigilant about keeping “the compartments of life” well-sealed, separate, distinct, unrelated; b) being the best we can be a playing a shell game with our “various selves”—hiding one then the other, using a slight of hand or word, while swiftly swiping each part around the table as we interact with life and people; or c) being disciplined enough to “care and feed” each one as separate entities, letting each one out to play at different times [like going on a “spiritual retreat-spa” and then returning home to live a strictly secular, pragmatic life], or d) somehow fostering the idea that each is valid and vital, but in no particular order and try and find some peace as we interact and interconnect in front of our family, friends, church community, or co-workers.
The only problem is that attempting to live life in any or all of the manners described above doesn’t actually work. Because it’s not how God created human being “In the beginning…” (Genesis 1). God created human beings to live holistic, integrated, and organically inter-connected lives: Just like The Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is and does. It’s how we are hard-wired to flourish; and it cannot be undone, ignored, or re-wired just because we choose to: It’s not about if but when, we will come undone.
Any life lived in this compartmentalized, disintegrated, and “artificially sustained” state is a compromised and deadly [See Resources: Deadly Emotions] life, Beloved of God. We may believe that it can be done, but it’s only by God’s long-suffering grace that any of us are kept alive long enough to choose another way, truth, and life: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
By God’s grace, He’s created a way, truth, and life that will get any us “re-aligned”: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) God designed human beings to exist with “the leading indicator” being our being spiritually aligned with Him FIRST.
The choice is clear… “Either we conform our desires to the truth or we conform the truth to our desires.” (Os Guinness) “Trust in the Lord your God with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
As mentioned above: The spiritual aspect of any human being is none other than the third person of the Trinitarian God of the Bible, The Holy Spirit—Who dwells in the heart of any human being who has sincerely and broken-heartedly repented of his or her inherited Sin (Genesis 3; Romans 1:18) and habitual sinning (Galatians 5) while beseeching Jesus to be his or her Savior [from hell] and Lord [as a disciple in their new life].
Do not fall into the trap of the world’s ways, the flesh [our own self-centered bent toward idolatry], and the devil that “any ‘ol spirituality will do.” All roads do not lead to the same God. Just take a comparative religion course. It’s not just historically and logically untrue and impossible, it doesn’t work anecdotally either: Our life stories and experience of idols vs. the One True God in Jesus Christ is not by any stretch the same God… at all.
All gods other than the Triune God of the Bible are man-made manifestations of god and based upon “works righteousness”—or man reaching out and up to God based upon their own merit. The God of the Bible is the only God Who has reached down to mankind in the form of Jesus Christ.
This is the most important and essential difference between Biblical Christianity and all of the approximately 2,500+ other world religions: a) God’s righteousness in Christ on our behalf (John 3:16), or b) man’s righteousness on his own behalf (Exodus 20:3-6).
“Coach All of Me!”
During the 20+ years of my leadership coaching practice I offered a plainly-stated model called Transformational Coaching: “Human beings consist of spiritual, social-emotional, mental-psychological, and physical parts.” I would explain. “Would you prefer to include all of these realms of your being? Or would you prefer to address certain parts therein?” I never made any bones about the fact that including one’s whole self is tranformational!
It’s a simple statement of fact and a simply-transformational choice to bring our entire self to a whole new level! The difference in the coaching mindset, relationship, and outcomes were radically different: The freedom and boundaries to be who God made us to be makes for a fantastically fulfilling life—especially for a servant-leader who will step up to empower others to flourish in fully holistic ways!
“Everyday Encounters with the Human Kind: Relationships with Other Holistic Beings”
The second anecdote that came to mind is the most sublimely simple yet supremely satisfying of all: “When I am all of me in a relationship that includes all of you.” This has been well-said in another sublimely simple yet supremely satisfying way by Tim Keller, “What God does when we are born again is two radically simple yet radically important and ever-expanding things: We are provided a whole new family and there is no more shame.”
When our “Christian holistic being and doing” in life is shared with others who have been embraced by God and themselves as “Christian holistic being’s and doing’s”, there is the complete freedom [except for the residual Sin and sinning that maintains compartments, family dysfunction, and old-self shame] to be and do and go wherever the Spirit leads! And it’s the Spirit Who leads: Based first upon who we are [or are not] in Christ Jesus.
“God created us for this: to live our lives in a way that makes him look more like the greatness and the beauty and the infinite worth that he really is. This is what it means to be created in the image of God.” (John Piper)
Certainly one of the most awesome foretastes of heaven is the HOLISTIC interaction between born-again family members (John 3:1-8; Galatians 4:5-7) imperfectly, repentantly living out life together with no shame or condemnation (Romans 8:1, all; Genesis 2:25).
I’ve had the blessing to meet many, many “spiritual family members” (Ephesians 2:19) in every place I have visited around the world. No matter what the nationality, ethnicity, geography, or family of origin, I have been radically blessed by meeting and celebrating with my Brothers and Sisters in Christ everywhere I go.
And it all begins with, “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: “What! You too?” (C.S. Lewis) When one born-again human being meets another born-again human being there exists a holistic, unashamed family relationship that’s unlike any other!
This reality is astounding.
Does your holistically-reoriented life include a person and a small community of people who you can be “all of you with each one of them?” Human nourishment and flourishment is made of this. No human being can live a contented, joyous, and fruitful life while spending the indefatigable time, talent, and treasure required to compartmentalize his or her spirituality, social-emotional, psychological-mental, and physical selves.
Apply Your Whole Self to Life!
“As with every aspect of our sanctification, the renewal of the heart may be painful and difficult. It requires hard work and discipline, inspired by a sacrificial love for Christ, and a burning desire to build up His body, the Church. Developing a Christian worldview means submitting our entire self to God, in an act of devotion and service to Him.” (Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity)
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36)!
Respectfully… Do you feel so secure about your identity in Christ that you can live fully, holistically, freely, and with anyone you meet—sharing your spiritual, social-emotional, psychological-mental, and physical self? If so, why? If not, why not? Is a loving and truthful question of this kind meaningful to you?
May God richly bless Himself, yourself, and your neighbor as you live a holistically free and radically fulfilling life!
Calvinism and the Christian Life, by Ian Hamilton
Deadly Emotions, by Dr. Don Colbert
Faith Has Its Reasons, by R.C. Sproul
Not One Of, but the One, by Kevin DeYoung
God’s Provision for the Weary Pilgrim, by Chris Larson