Saturday, September 20, 2014

Wholeness Submitted to the Spirit

September 21, 2014

Dear Friends,

When a reader takes time to post a response to something I have written I am very pleased. It is always helpful.

Last week’s reader response raised the issue of our learning to distinguish the voice of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit speaks into our inner world.

For the practicing Christian, hearing and obeying the Spirit is the central response of discipleship. Spiritual maturity can be thought of as the development of ears that hear, eyes that see, and hearts that obey the Spirit’s leading.

But in order to gain an authentic maturity with full potential to hear and obey the Spirit, we must learn to know our inner world, and to develop an integrated whole person that then can choose to hear and respond to the Spirit’s voice.

It is interesting to note the emphasis Jesus placed on whole-person response.  When the lawyer asked Jesus about the requirements for life with God, Jesus answered his question with a question. 

“What do you think?” Jesus asked.

God wants me to love Him with all my heart, all my soul and with all my mind, and all my strength, and love my neighbor as myself,” the young man answered promptly.

“You’re right,” Jesus responded, “Now go and do what you’ve said.”

Paul’s letters to the early church carried a parallel whole-person emphasis. Writing to the believers at Thessalonica, Paul said, “Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until that day when our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.” [1 Thess. 5:23. NLT]

But wholeness in the biblical sense requires more than piling body, soul, and spirit one on the other like a stack of blocks. It requires knowing the differing aspects of our body/brain responses and integrating them into a whole person. The whole person, acting out of this integrated self, then both discerns and responds to the Spirit.

Being fully human is more than body plus soul; it is an intricate intermingling of parts.  Madeleine L’Engle spoke about this process of integration in “The Irrational Year,” (The Crosswicks Journals, Vol. 3).  She wrote: “heart into mind, mind into heart.”

The joys, privileges, and responsibilities of discipleship require rigorous resistance to fragmentation, and ongoing commitment to obedient wholeness.  Dualism—head or heart, soul or body, limbic system or cortex—is a distortion of the true nature with which God has endowed us. And we must learn head into heart, soul into body, limbic system into cortex; heart into head, body into soul, cortex into limbic system—learned wholeness, then, obedient wholeness placed under the Spirit’s leading.

Nobody said it was easy.

See you next week.


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