If I watched a video of your everyday life for the past six weeks, would I conclude that your faith shapes everything you think, desire, say, and do? Or, as I watched that video, would I begin to see a separation between your spirituality and reality?
I want to write today about something that I call Spiritual Schizophrenia. I can summarize it with a question: does the public persona of your faith live in harmony with the private realities of your life? Here are a few examples:
- Are you a mother that joyfully sings "Amazing Grace" during a worship service, and then on the way home, yells at your kids for making noise and disrupting your peace and quiet?
- Are you a husband that prays and reads the Bible in the morning before work, but treats your wife with cold harshness before walking out the door?
- Are you a member of a small group who participates with spiritual enthusiasm in front of people but lives in fear and discouragement when no one is looking?
- Are you a pastor that boldly proclaims the Bible from the pulpit but fails to live in the same biblical manner with your family?
The examples can go on and on, but you get the picture. I'm afraid that there's a big separation between many believers' worlds of spirituality and reality. Outside of the spiritual world (worship services, small group, ministry activities, personal devotion, etc), their reality is untouched by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Here's the problem - we've created these two worlds when the Bible never gives any indication that these two worlds exist. Jesus never talked about a separation between reality and spirituality, because true spirituality means that everything in my life has new meaning, new purpose, new focus, new direction, and new motivation. My reality is motivated and structured by my spiritual relationship to God and the purposes He has for my life.
I'm deeply persuaded that in this fallen world, with all of its interesting activities and seductive temptations, Christian activity often gets substituted for true Christian living. In many ways, Christian activity will look and feel like the real thing, but it won't be the real thing because the real thing is about Jesus's constant work to change me at the core of who I am.
Is there evidence that you're living with a separation between your spirituality and reality? However slight, this separation shouldn't exist. So maybe you're asking now, "What will my life look like if my spirituality begins to transform my reality?" Let me give you five signs:
First, there will be a humble awareness of the extent and the gravity of your sin. You won't become complacent about your sin; you will see the fact that your words and your actions depict a constant need for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Second, you'll be aware of that constant battle for control of your heart. Your heart is a worship center, and if it doesn't worship the Creator, it will worship the creation. There's always a war for your heart, and you'll be aware of that battle all the time.
Third, there will be a clear holding on to the present benefits of Christ's grace right here and right now. You'll be so thankful that there's not just grace for the past and grace for the future, but that there's grace for the things that you face right now, in your family, in work, in your neighborhood, and all of your activities.
Fourth, there will be a daily pursuit of God's call to personal growth and change. You'll not be satisfied with who you are. You'll not be satisfied with the way you're speaking, acting, and responding. You'll want to grow, you'll want to change, and you'll see that over the course of your everyday life.
Fifth and finally, there will be an everyday lifestyle of repentance and faith. There will be this constant turning and depending on the Lord. You'll say, "Lord, I can't do it, but You can."
I would ask you again: Is there somehow, someway, however slight, that a separation exists between your reality and your spirituality? Pray that God would close that gap in your life.