"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Hebrews 12:1
Just as a marathon runner could never run a winning race while laden with a backpack full of bricks, a Christian cannot run a successful race without lightening their load of weights and "besetting" (entangling, encompassing, surrounding) sins. Jesus must increase, and we must decrease. (John 3:30)
In the last post, we talked about the Whole-Person Pie© and how the pie is made up of eight slices that are common to us all, namely, Spiritual, Physical, Mental, Emotional, Relational, Financial, Occupational, and Obligational.
Looking at that pie, at first glance, can be completely overwhelming, especially if you realize during that first look that there are things that need to be laid aside and whittled off in every, single category. I think most of us could agree that we have far too much excess that needs to be shed from our individual lives to free us to "run the race that is set before us."
But, where to begin? The task seems beyond daunting, and we obviously need help from a power that is greater and higher than us. This is where "Biblical" is added to minimalism. This is where God comes in.
In order to reach a sense of perfect balance, God must be at the very center —the hub of the wheel— of our lives.
Do you see how the chart is broken up into eight pie-shaped slices? Do you see how the slices are in the shape of triangles, and each triangle reaches toward God in the center? Do you see how the slices become narrower the closer they get to the center where God is?
The closer we draw to Him and endeavor to align our lives with the way He lived His life in an earthly body for 33 1/2 years on earth, the less encumbered we will be. It is a matter of Him steadily increasing and self-decreasing.
"Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." Matthew 16:24
As we tackle the subject matter that makes up each of the eight categories, I would like to start with the top right slice of the pie, that part of us that is spiritual because truly that is most important. Our soul will live forever and is the only part of us that will leave this world and return to our Creator, God.
In John 10:10 Jesus said, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly." Jesus wants us to live abundantly in each of the eight parts of what makes up the whole of our lives. The enemy of our souls will do all he can to keep that from happening, and his sole purpose is to steal our joy, kill our happiness, and destroy everything good in each of the eight categories of our lives, none more so than the spiritual.
We all come to God with a checkered past, hang-ups, addictions, and all sorts of baggage. To run a winning Christian race, a lot of shedding, pruning, and minimizing has to take place.
Thankfully, God is a patient, loving God who understands and empathizes with our humanity.
"For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust." Psalm 103:14
As we walk with Him, day by day, He ever-so-gently and continually reveals the parts of us that are unlike Him. The more time we spend with Him, the more we come to understand who He is, and who we are, in comparison. As we draw nearer to Him in our Christian walk, His holiness illuminates those parts of us that need to be minimized and laid aside. This is what it means to "walk in the light".
"But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin." I John 1:7
"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12
The key to bringing the spiritual part of us into alignment with the way Jesus lived His life is to walk in obedience. As He sheds light on parts of us that need to be minimized and changed, it is up to us to "walk in the light, as He is in the light."
It's hard to own up to where we really are, isn't it? But if we never face reality and embrace what is true, we will never take the first necessary step toward living a Biblically minimal life. I have prepared a spiritual assessment questionnaire that I hope will at least get the conversation started and help you assess where you are in your walk with the Lord. If you would like to download and print it, click HERE. As you work through the seven questions, be honest and open. You are the only person who ever needs to see the answers.
As I type, I am praying for each person who ever reads these words. It is my hope that as we work through the eight categories of the Whole-Person Pie© you are encouraged to draw ever nearer to God and to let go of every, single thing that is holding you back from full obedience to Him, hindering you in following Him, and keeping you enslaved to this consumerism-driven, self-obsessed world. May your affections become ever more eternity-focused as you lean into His perfect will in every area of your life.
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way as to take the prize." 1 Corinthians 9:24 (Berean Study Bible)