It’s hard to explain ourselves, because it’s hard to even understand ourselves.
When my daughter was three and a half, I sat with her and looked through a preschool anatomy book. Most of it was a series of plastic transparencies that highlighted the systems of the human body. Even with illustrations simply drawn, when I turned to the muscular system, and she saw a cartoon kid with no skin, and two poached eggs for eyes, she looked up at me horrified, and said, “What happened to he face?” (sic)
“It’s a cut-away view, baby.”
“Did it hurt?”
“No, that means you get to look inside the person without hurting them.”
Okay, it was hard to explain.
I’ve been writing a book about spiritual inner life, and I find it similarly hard to explain. How do you hit the high notes about what goes on in a born again person? We’re usually aware of something palpable when the worship music on Sunday morning is thumping. Or when the preacher is particularly good. And, maybe here, or there when devotionals really deliver.
The rest of the time, though, the human spirit seems to go back to sleep, yielding the floor to work, kids, vacations, and what to have for dinner.
And so our interior continues on in a state of polarization. God has His stuff, and you’ve got yours. Each has a separate set of transparency pages for the secular and the spiritual.
At least this is the pattern we get used to living.
It’s fine to isolate and study the aspects of spirituality within a Christian, just don’t forget to collapse the pages back down into a unity. All of it is supposed to connect at some place within us. Conscience clears the way for worship, worship enriches our ability to be led, leading flows out into service for others, and this entire collective interfaces with the mind, emotion, and will of a human being. All at once.
Subtract your mind from the mix, and you’ll become an enthusiastic idiot. Leave out your emotions, and you’ll end up a robot that has read too many books. Hobble the will, and you’ll never be able to commit to what you know or feel about Christ.
Paul mentioned a number of inner life concepts. He treated these as so important, they could be antidotes even to the declining condition of the church.
- Clear conscience (2 Tim. 1:3)
- Sincere faith (v. 5)
- The gift of God (v. 6)
- A spirit of power, and love, and self-control (v. 7)
- Eternal life (v. 10)
- Healthy words (v. 13)
- Indwelling Spirit (v. 14)
Again, it all works together on the inside, for the good not only of the individual, but for a dragging, troubled congregation, a lost world, and ultimately, the glory of God.
When I was a kid myself, and flattened those transparent anatomy pages, it was remarkable to me what a confused bunch of gobbledygook we all seemed to be carrying around inside us. And yet it works together as an integrated package. We’re mostly not aware of it. But within those multi-layered systems, there’s something always happening. You’re not supposed to feel it too much. In fact, if every moment is stimulating, or every moment is excruciating, something is wrong.
Well, these days I have a different “anatomy” book—the Bible. It tells me that deeper than any physical system, faith in Christ has awakened in us a dynamo of operation. Something new.
While walking around today, remember that you carry within you a blessing, a solution, an antidote.