“When there is a tendency to compartmentalize the spiritual and make it resident in a certain type of life only, the spiritual is apt gradually to be lost.” – Flannery O’Connor
There is a slogan commonly used when describing a trip to Vegas: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” The idea is that when people go to Las Vegas, they get license to do things they would never normally do, to act like they would never normally act. This is Vegas! So what if you lose a whole lot of money? This is Vegas! So what if you…?
The problem is many Christians are living their faith this way. When we compartmentalize our faith the slogan becomes, “what happens at church, stays at church,” or, “what happens away from church, stays away from church.” Often, our response to the all that is happening around us is to segregate these various areas of our lives into compartments like a super-organized California Closet: house, marriage, kids, family, schedules, friends, food, hobbies . . . and Jesus. Our attempt at order by compartmentalizing or controlling our lives, people, and tasks is really a heart issue. We have to ask ourselves what we believe. Do we believe that God is Lord over all, attentive to us in everything?
Christians are called to be Christians, not just some of the time, but all of the time. We are called to be Christ-like in all of our actions, not just some of our actions. When Christians live a compartmentalized life, they do a great job at being Christians some of the time, but the rest of the time the bets are off.
With the sacrifice of Jesus as our foundation, and the Holy Spirit as our guide, we are called to worship God 24/7. The scriptures don’t say anything about us putting aside our faith in compartments when we don’t want God to interfere with certain parts of our lives. We aren’t called to worship God just when it is convenient. We are called to trust and believe in Him even when it is inconvenient. The world might be pressuring us to compartmentalize our faith in Christ, but what the world desperately needs is for that faith to unify and integrate every aspect of our lives.
So how do we get rid of the compartments? Handing the reins over to our attentive God is the first step. We can acknowledge the propensity to compartmentalize and pray for wisdom to eliminate those areas of our life where God does not play a principal role. We need the Holy Spirit to help us (John 14:26) to see how we have pushed God aside as we “do” our lives.
The bottom line is this. It is turning our focus from our agenda to His, seeing Christ made great in our thoughts, actions, feelings, in fact, through all the details of life. The Bible says that we can be recognized by the fruit we produce in our lives. What kind of fruit are you producing? More than that, what kind of fruit are others noticing you are producing when they see you on a daily basis? Are you producing the fruits of the Spirit that are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?
The challenge is being a Christian not just when everyone is looking, but also when no one is looking.
- Do you desire Jesus Christ to be first in your life? Do you see every aspect of your life and work as service to God. How does that manifest itself in your life?
- Many people are tempted to compartmentalize their faith rather than allow God to influence every aspect of their lives. Discuss some of the reasons for this. In what ways can materialism be the enemy of single-mindedness?
- Which area of your life (relationships, finances, work, family, etc.) is hardest to submit to God’s will and guidance?
- How have you experienced the benefits of a single-minded focus on God?
- How has “seeking first the kingdom of God” brought God’s blessing upon your work, relationships, family, and finances?
- Pray and ask God for the wisdom to occupy all the compartments in your life.