Compartmentalization is the making of separate mental, physical, and emotional “baskets” or “rooms” for our lives in the areas of work, money, family, church, sports, friends, and even God.
While compartmentalizing can be helpful for a “things-to-do” list or calendar, there are real and potentially deadly dangers when we adopt this approach to our spiritual life.
Why? Because God created each of us as a whole person, not a segmented spiritual being. When we are in a transformed, redeemed, and whole relationship with God because of the saving work of Jesus Christ, God’s presence in the Holy Spirit permeates every part of our being. Here’s how the Shema, the ancient Old Testament scripture, states it:
“The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength”
I remember going to church with my parents when I was a child. During the service, people seemed to be respectful and reverent. There were times as we left the service, however, when we witnessed a few angry drivers jockeying to leave the crowded church parking lot. I imagine they had somewhere to go, and they had left the “church compartment” of their life and were anxious to move on with the next one. Their aggressive behavior seemed inconsistent with what they had just heard and professed a few minutes earlier and affected their well being as well as others around them.
We regularly hear news stories of people who rationalized ugly, immoral behavior by claiming it had nothing to do with their relationship with God. The false walls of their spiritual compartmentalization led them to self-deception and spiritual blindness.
The biggest danger of compartmentalizing our lives is that we will abandon our spiritual base and adapt our moral standards—and our behavior—to fit the situation. This effect of these choices is the poisoning of all the areas of our life and being.
True worship involves every moment and facet of our life, not just the outward expressions when we are with other like-minded believers. The Bible puts it this way:
“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice”
Proverbs 21: 4
God is looking for people who will worship Him in every moment and with every part of their being. Don’t get me wrong: as long as we are still able to fog a mirror, Christ-followers will have to contend with the pull of our old, dead nature. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with this:
“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
The only solution to spiritual compartmentalization is the day-to-day choice to yield every part of our being to God, through the person of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Immersing ourselves in His Word and living in His power, God promises to move us, step by step, towards the whole, completed person He created us to be.
A few years ago I wrote a personal commitment prayer-song to God. It’s called “I Will Love You” and I’ve included the recording with this week’s blog. Enjoy!
God bless you!