by Erik Peterson
At The Grove, we seek to cultivate our spiritual lives and creative work in community. This is a 3-part series exploring the dimensions of wholeness in our lives as we follow Jesus. In Part 1, we’ll be exploring wholeness and our spiritual life.
There can be no talk of wholeness in our spiritual life without first acknowledging our need for it, and knowing that Jesus is the one who makes it possible and ultimately fulfills it in Himself. In an ultimate sense, our wholeness is found in Him, through his birth, death and resurrection, and the redemption He has in store for us who follow Him.
Wholeness is rooted in the Father’s love for us and is both our birthright and destination in Christ; it is the process through which the Spirit of God uses every aspect of our lives to grow us to become more like Him. (Romans 8:15-16; Ephesians 1:3-13; 2 Corinthians 3:18.)
C.S. Lewis beautifully illustrates this process in a remarkable and unforgettable image:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
Yes, in our small comforts we think we know what is best for us, but God intends infinitely more.
Oftentimes, we only see certain areas of our lives as being worthy to be redeemed. But this is a mistake. Every part of ourselves is meant to be surrendered to the process of redemption, to God’s expert and loving handiwork in and through all things.
We often fall prey to the lie that God operates in only one or two domains. For instance, on Sundays or in prayer time. Then we exclude Him from the very areas He wants to use as a vehicle for our growth, the corners of the palace He wants to build! For example, we might be dutifully going to church and praying in the mornings, but our relationship with a family member or significant other is strained, and we find ourselves responding with pride, petty comments, or passive aggressiveness. This is what we call an opportunity!
Or maybe we are thriving in our business, but we are stressed out, burned out, eating unhealthy fake foods, and getting poor sleep. In turn we find ourselves becoming more lethargic, irritable, and lacking the necessary energy to serve others and do our jobs well.
So, when we survey the landscape of our lives, we can easily identify that they are not yet whole, and we need new eyes to see the opportunities to grow to become more skilled, more discerning, more grace-filled, more wise, more loving. (Philippians 4:8-9) These shimmering qualities are ours to pursue in Christ and with Christ. As a first step, all we need to do is look and see.
Much more could be said on this topic, but what I’ll leave you with is one final but important distinction. As we have seen, our spiritual life is not a separate aspect of our lives, rather, our entire life is spiritual.
God would have it no other way.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Journey of Wholeness series on our Creative Work!