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Some interesting conversation came up in one of our church management meetings. It revolved around several different things in different societies, in different eras. But it struck me how all of them used basically the same technique to aim at the same result. Walls. Let’s see what I mean.
One of our managing pastors shared a study he had seen about teens and young adults. It showed that they tended to place God somewhere in their spiritual ecosystem where comfortability and income became signs of where they thought they were spiritually. Sometimes separating God from the rest of life, sometimes equating success and spirituality. Later in that same conversation, we were talking about Stalin era Russia. How people could be in their apartment, wake in the middle of the night to sounds in the hallway, discovering the next day that the next door neighbors had disappeared. A few days later, the neighbors on the other side might be gone. And always an undercurrent of fear.
One of the Christian Blackberry Messaging groups I’m in has a pretty active group of individuals. One of my fellow administrators decided he needed to quit the group. Because his electronic relationships were interfering with his “in person” relationships.
All three of those seem like very different circumstances. But there’s a one word concept that unites all of them. Compartmentalization. Walls and more walls creating separation. We’ve all heard or talked about putting someone or something “in a box”. Every time we do, we create an unreal situation that has nothing to do with how God would have things done. But just might be how the other kingdom would have us operate.
Matthew 6:33 says, “seek first”, not “seek only” or “seek instead”. God is well aware we’re in the world and can’t totally ignore it. But He does want us to be aware we shouldn’t be of the world. While we may or may not be blessed abundantly, God doesn’t want that to be our barometer of our spiritual health. And, blessed or not, Exodus 20:5 says God doesn’t want anything taking priority over Him. Doing so, even in error, is sin – missing the mark. The mark is not blessings, it’s God. But the enemy wants the focus off God. God compartmentalized away from the rest of life.
That discussion about Stalin’s Russia. Another aspect of the same thing. There’s that undercurrent of dread and distrust. Even distrusting God. 2Timothy1:7 says the spirit of fear isn’t from God. That makes sense. An atmosphere charged with emotion gets in the way of clear thinking. Especially of thinking with God. People disappearing to prison camps or execution. Not only did dissenters disappear, but everyone distrusted everyone else. No fellowship with each other. No fellowship with God. People compartmentalized away from each other. And, even more so, people compartmentalized away from God. Even though there were ways to combat that, the sense that people were alone with nowhere to turn left a sense of not being able to do anything about the circumstances.
When we look at our third example, we see a different scenario. A situation that needs to be managed. There are plenty of verses that indicate our spouses and children are to be important to us. Or that we’re supposed to edify and help others. But they’re not supposed to conflict with each other. However, in the 21st century, much of our communication is electronic. If you’ve seen the Toyota commercial with the daughter who’s trying to get her parents involved in Facebook so they’ll have a “social life”, they actually go out with people. She stays home in front of the computer screen, having no clue that they know better than she does how to do things.
The very nature of how social media compartmentalizes segments of our lives. We’re hunched over our smartphones or sucked into what’s on our computer screens. To the detriment of everything around us. Separated from the blessings God has given us, separated from being a blessing to those around us, all the while believing we have some real interaction. So, how do we deal with this and the other situations that lead to compartmentalization?
- Trust God – He’s the only one trustworthy.
- Trust those around us – they’re gifts from God.
- Regularly hear the Word of God – the Word will give us Truth, balance, and grow our ability to trust.
- Fellowship with the Body of Christ – the Body is a source of hearing the Word, a source of blessing and trust.
- Fellowship with those close to us – friends, relatives, family — we can bless and be blessed.
The power of trusting God overcomes the sense of frustration. It overcomes the loneliness. It overcomes the feeling that we lack power. As it says in Matthew 19:26, “all things are possible with God.”. We don’t have to be compartmentalized from God or from each other. What is compartmentalization doing to your life? And how do you combat it?