“It’s not spelling, it’s writing!”
“It’s not math, it’s language!”
These are the type of emphatic statements my daughter makes when I correct her school papers. She does not understand why I mark spelling wrong on her penmanship homework. She doesn’t get it when I tell her about how she wrote her “5” backwards when she numbered her language quiz. She thinks each subject should remain separate. At 9, she has learned to compartmentalize her life in such a way that she feels comfortable justifying error. She can now enjoy the benefits of avoiding personal responsibility, refuse helpful accountability, and ignore necessary correction – at least in as much as she can continue to convince herself that it is perfectly safe to live life in sordid, unconnected, error-filled pieces.
I guess spelling, penmanship, math, and language are going to have to wait. This lesson is far too important to sidestep. I need a divine lesson plan straight from the Almighty. As far as teachable moments go for the week, this is it. I can’t afford to fumble.
I spend the next five minutes trying to explain how every part of her life is a piece of her puzzle. I tell her everything must fit together if she wants the best outcomes. I feel desperately inadequate as we close our studies for the day. I look to my Father for help giving a less insufficient answer and I ask him to show me how to help her.
What I find is myself standing in utter need, waste deep in confession, and at the mercy of mercy itself. How many times have I said in my heart things like, “It’s not church, it’s a picnic.” “It’s not Sunday, it’s Saturday night.” “It isn’t right, but I’m not wrong because this part of my life has nothing to do with that one.”
That one. You know, that part which holds it all together; the centrality of all of life; the big picture creator; the weaver of this great tapestry; the one golden thread running through the whole of it all. The subject? Jesus Christ.
And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17)
He holds all things together. Every piece of our lives belongs to him. There is not one about which we have the liberty to say, “This isn’t Christianity, it’s recreation.” “This isn’t about Jesus, it’s about me.” “This isn’t religion, it’s work.” “This isn’t God’s business it’s mine.” No. None of that holds water at the end of the day and we all know it.
We know that if Christ is not welcome at work or play or in the recesses of our own hearts and minds at any given moment – if we relegate him to any specific areas and leave him there – nothing will ever fit together properly. The pieces of our lives will simply never match. The practice of compartmentalizing our Christianity means spiritual slumber, carnal living, and abdication of personal responsibility. A compartmentalized Christian repeatedly refuses helpful accountability and ignores necessary correction. The Bible calls that person a fool.
A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent. (Proverbs 15:5)
Little wonder why it also warns parents that folly itself is indeed bound up – tied in knots; holding captive; intertwined to a serious and dangerous degree – in the hearts of our children. We must teach them his ways if we want them to lead righteous lives.
The problem then becomes us. We cannot teach what we do not know. We cannot teach what we do not do. If our lives are separated by subject, our children will never learn integrity, consistency, faithfulness, or sacrifice. They will learn, however. They will learn hypocrisy, abdication, irresponsibility, and self-righteous self-defense.
iF u dOnn’T blevE me, teSt mY werDs?
Go ahead and try to pretend you don’t need reading to do math or language to write. You will end up like a professor of faith who acts as if he does not need God at work; play; in relationships; etc. A sayer who cannot, by mere virtue of his own bad theology, be a doer of any good thing.
Lord, let me not be foolish! Every compartment of my life must include you.