Reconciled World’s third Core Principle is Integrating Physical and Spiritual.
It means that we acknowledge that people are spiritual and physical beings, all intertwined in a way that there is really no such thing as “spiritual problems” and “physical problems”. So called “physical problems” always affect both our body and our spirit, and our spiritual state impacts our physical reality in a constant feedback loop. Likewise, following Jesus means submitting every aspect of our lives to Him–not just having some kind of “spiritual” experience.
Even though I feel like a broken record (there’s an archaic analogy for you!), I feel like I should point out that we aren’t very unique or creative in this idea. Christians have been faithful to this core principle since the Apostles charged Paul to remember the poor, the very thing he was eager to do (Galatians 2:10).
My first experiences in community development taught me one lesson – it’s not as easy as I would like. It always felt like a dance. Sometimes we did see good results but often it felt like one step forward and two backwards. Some of our experiences were great and sometimes we found out that while things can improve in one area, it doesn’t necessarily mean a life transformed. For example, more money doesn’t always mean better educated children, it may mean parents buying more alcohol.
In only three years of community development work I was already starting to ask if I had missed something, was there another way of addressing the needs that we saw around us. Around that time I attended a conference. One of the conference speakers, Bob Moffitt of Harvest Foundation shared three truths.
The story went something like this:
“What is the main priority of your ministry, I asked? He was a ministry leader in a Latin American country and I wasn’t sure exactly how he would answer this question. He paused and responded by saying: ‘discipleship.’ I was thankful for his response and then asked him this question. How often does your discipleship start at conversion? His response: ‘almost never.” – Bob Moffitt, International Wholistic Missions Conference, 2015
John Beckett is a Christ follower, business leader, and author of Loving Monday and Mastering Monday. This month, as we reflect on our Core Value: integrating physical and spiritual, we asked John for permission to repost some of his writings on integration of faith and business.
In Chapter 9 of Loving Monday, John writes:
For years, I thought my involvement in business was a second-class endeavor — necessary to put bread on the table, but somehow less noble than more sacred pursuits like being a minister or a missionary. The clear impression is that to truly serve God as a “real Christian,” one must leave business and go into full-time Christian service. Over the years, I have met countless other business people who feel the same way.
A few months ago in my church we commissioned a family that was leaving to do “full time” ministry work in Europe. They had felt the call to go to Europe as missionaries and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost. We celebrated their call to ministry work and prayed for them as they left.
The next morning they left on a plane for Europe, following their hearts to change the world.
At the same time they boarded their plane Rich boarded his tractor, Natalie entered her second grade classroom, Nate sat down at his cubicle for Citibank and Russ picked up his trowel to smooth concrete
When I was growing up (not that long ago, thanks), we had all the inward-focused ministries, like Sunday school and potlucks, and we had evangelism. I think we would have considered any activity that served the poor as “social gospel” (aka, El Diablo). Anyone have the same experience? Nearly everybody? That’s what I thought.*
I’m thankful that God loves us too much to leave us where we are. Instead of smiting us, He has begun to awaken the Church to our calling to:
- Care for those that Jesus cared for
- Do the things that Jesus did
- Make disciples, not just converts. Converts know the right answers. Disciples are learning to bring every area of their lives under the lordship of Christ.
Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
This tiny verse is how the Bible sums up the first 30 or so years of Jesus’ life. Many of us who are interested in wholistic development point to this verse as the Biblical example of what we hope to see happen in all those we work with.
But for me, Luke 2:52 hits even closer to home.
When we are invited into a new area to teach the TCT program, we try to identify the key lies that hold communities in poverty. For one reason or another, one of the lies that we often find is that “God only cares about spiritual matters.” This lie along with the belief that they cannot do anything for themselves, can bring great harm to communities. Through the TCT program we are trying to combat lies like these and demonstrate that God has created us as an interconnected whole. We were created to love others and help them not only spiritually, but physically and emotionally as well. Here is just one example of how this integration of physical and spiritual has played out in a TCT community.
Grace Community Church was in poor condition with many believers who were in need, hungry and sick. the environment was unhygienic; the roads were full of garbage. Although the local government called for hygienic living many times there was no positive response from the villagers and conditions got worse and worse.
For several weeks in the month of May our blog will be wrestling with one of the 7 core principles of Reconciled World: Integrating Physical & Spiritual. To begin we would like to share a post from friend and Reconciled World board member Darrow Miller. Darrow, through his work with Disciple Nations Alliance, has written a blog on this topic in relation to culture. Below are his thoughts on the role that the physical and spiritual elements play in shaping culture.
God made humankind to be culture makers, and it matters a great deal what kind of culture we create. Whatever our vocation, whatever domain we are called to, as Christians our work is ultimately to create kingdom culture—culture that reflects the true nature and character of God.