Kingdom Principle: Wholeness of self is the process of holiness.
The King sees your whole self, and your whole self is greater than the sum of its parts (body, soul & spirit).
|1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20)||Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18||1 Corinthians 6:12-20||John 1:43-51|
While the banana is only a single ingredient of the Banana Split without the banana it becomes something very different – a Sundae. Further simply having all the ingredients for the banana split but to eat them separate is not to enjoy the dessert. The parts (ingredients) of the banana split (ice cream flavors, syrups, nuts, cherries, whip cream) are all unique and important pieces, but together you have so much more. God has called us to whole and holy people. In order to live into the holiness of God, we must not settle for sundae’s when what God has asked for banana splits.
In this dessert metaphor, the Holy Spirit has been given to all believers which is being made analogous to a banana, but all too often believers offer sundae’s leaving the “banana” in its peel. (There is a play on words regarding what believers have to offer on Sunday… but I’ve already pushed it far enough) It’s no wonder those believers to feel like something is simply missing when it comes to holiness and worship. What is missing is a holistic understanding and engagement of life. Meaning that every aspect and part of your life matters to God, and impacts your worship.
You have a body, soul and spirit each unique unto themselves, and when the Holy Spirit cuts and pierces our hearts (Acts 2:37) and the Word of God divides us (Heb. 4:12, 1 Thess. 5:23) the process of our submission and holiness unto the King is holistic (as opposed to dualistic). While we have unique parts, holiness is the aspect of all our parts being made whole. Holiness is alone a gift from God unto us, yet we are called to be Holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16) Over this lectionary year (B) we will look at the unique and individual aspects of the body, soul and spirit, but it must always remain paramount that we are more than the sum of our parts, and that we are made in the image of God, who’s thoughts are greater than the sum of them all.
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts” – is first attributed to Aristotle in his Metaphysics in 330 BC, this was a rejection of Plato’s theory of objects being a mere shadow of an ideal. (the roots of gnostism) And while this statement has been interpreted with various meanings over millennium, a great resurgence began in the last 100 years with the interest of Gestalt psychology. (here the emphasis is on the power of interactions and impacts of the “parts” upon one another) The Psalmist (David) long before Aristotle presented this picture of the whole being greater than the sum of our parts as the aspect of how God views us as His Creation. Further, God thoughts toward us are greater than a dissection of philosophy (Aristotle) or psychology (Gestalt) as a form of elevated anthropology. (forgive the jargon) God has split the heaven and earth, (torn veil) and draws us to holiness, by the power of his Holy Spirit.
Last week we addressed that the Spirit motivates, moves and molds the heart of the Kingdom, and previously we have addressed how the heart is the center of the body, soul and spirit. When we separate the body, soul and spirit we have a tendency to emphasize only one aspect of our holiness; like eating banana split one ingredient at a time. I would go as far as to call this a split personality, which has lead to many in the church to be accused of hypocrisy.
- An isolated focus for the holiness of the body demands right action.
- An isolated focus for the holiness of the soul declares right attitude.
- An isolated focus for the holiness of the spirit demonstrates right approach.
But unfortunately, having any of these rights (action, attitude, approach) at the expense of another is to miss the fact that God’s holiness for us is holistic. This holistic expression is a reality that the whole is greater than the sum of its part. God sees our whole self and longs for His holiness and righteousness to be our only measure of approach, attitude and action. The Spirit of God is the glue and ruler of the body, soul and spirit of humanity. Gnosticism (the dualistic separation of the body and soul/spirit has been around for the ages, and was one of the main battle of the 1st century church) is not the pattern the King of Kings is seeking for those who desire to worship Him.
God has established a pattern by which his people are to worship, and the world has a different pattern (Romans 12:1-3). God’s pattern was laid out to Moses in the building of the Tabernacle, (Exodus 25-27, 30-31) and is renewed in the Life of Jesus (John 1, Hebrews 9:11-15) and was followed by Paul. (1 Cor. 4:16, 11:1, Phil.3:17 2 Tim 1:13). It is God’s desire to dwell among his people; the Tabernacle of the Old Testament shows how common people can have fellowship with a Holy God. (Exodus 25:8-9). The Tabernacle of the New Testament is the re-born life in Christ, (John 3:3, Gal 2:20) and our body is the tabernacle of the Holy Spirit. Within the pattern of the Tabernacle and Domains (inspired by Moses’s discipiling the nation of Israel) all aspects of life were engaged as worship. Again, the whole is the focus not the sum of parts or even the parts without the whole. All of the law is fulfilled in the life of Jesus – and it is the Spirit of Jesus which has been given to us that we might exalt and worship the King.
This week’s scriptures focus on the integration of our lives. Even if we live without deceit, having right actions (body) and right attitude (soul), but truly fail to approach (spirit) Jesus in submission of spirit as Nathaniel did, what have we gained? When we know the truth of God’s Word, yet fail to apply it to our lives and in our places of authority – God is not worshiped and the Kingdom is not expanded. Eli focused on mental formation, but ignored the physical formation of himself, and the relational/emotional formation of his children. Samuel’s soul was in submission to Eli when he first heard the Spirit, for he had not be taught to hear the Lord. As Samuel responded the Holy Spirit, it transformed his actions (body) and attitude (soul), such that no word fell to the ground unanswered. Wholeness, in our heart is our process of holiness – and in holiness, God is worshiped and the Kingdom is expanded. God is concerned with the mundane actions of our lives just as much as the majestic and the mystical – when we sit and stand, even our very thoughts when we are thinking about nothing at all, remain a priority to God.
Therefore let Holiness be an integration of wholeness into my life as an act of worship!
First, it is important to acknowledge that you have a spirit as distinct from your body and soul. Your spirit is unique from the Holy Spirit, and while that may be obvious, the implications are not so commonly accepted. Your soul is unique from your spirit, in the same way that your body is unique from your soul. Your soul is uniquely expressed in your thoughts and emotions and your will that has impulses of its own. Your spirit must be reborn from above; your soul must be redeemed. The process of holiness begins with your spirit and lives and dies in the soul. Your body is not mere substance or flesh. God created your body to honor him and be a connective tool for worship. Further you body is so important to God that it will be fully resurrected.
Second (once you have the ingredients – make your banana split – by putting it all together) Seek to integrate your worship (actions, attitude, and approach) though the pattern of the Tabernacle.
Physical & Emotional formation are often rooted in the need to disciple your body.
Mental & Relational formation are rooted in your need to develop your soul.
Spiritual & Missional formation are rooted in your need to be directed by your spirit.
Finally, be you!
You were designed to worship the King in holiness… it is not about having the right actions (alone), or the right attitude (only), or the right approach (without the rest); it is about having the righteousness of God – which is a gift. So bask in the Son of the Almighty – He as given his life for you, now give your live for him.