Is All of Life Spiritual?

As a believer, you will have two basic kinds of interaction with the Lord: Quiet, intimate, internal times which are deliberate and focused on Him directly, and active, interactive, outwardly directed times which are more incidental. Both kinds of times are good for fellowshipping with God. In my understanding of these two kinds of times, neither is inherently “more spiritual” than the other, but they are complementary and equally necessary for growth in the Lord. Sometimes our walk is contemplative and other times it’s more “vocational” or even social. It’s all Him, though. And I don’t think there’s meant to be a strong distinction between these… they’re both ways to know Him. But the point of describing them is that we need both. Without one, the other suffers. Each one gives meaning to the other.

The same basic idea is true in marriage. Sometimes you have intimate times of focused, deliberate attention and affection. Sex comes to mind, of course, particularly since I’m male. But at other times you simply “live with” your mate and do whatever else it is that you do together. Both are a part of your marriage. If you only have one of them the marriage will suffer. Each one is meant to enrich the other. A marriage that’s all sex and no “hang out” would be shallow and superficial. On the other hand, a marriage that deliberately avoids physical intimacy would strain the relationship to the point of breaking except for rare circumstances. A healthy marriage has both.

Life in the church is the same way. Sometimes the saints focus their attention inwardly towards the Spirit of Jesus within; these are quiet times of affection and adoration with the Lord inside each of us. Other times their attention is directed outwardly towards the Lord in each other. They hear Him speak and they interact with Him in His many diverse representations. Any and every activity that the church undertakes is endowed with God’s Spirit because the Body of Christ is involved.

I used to say simply that “All of life is spiritual.” My mentors in the Lord taught me to see it that way, and to say it that way. That has always been the way that I have approched the things of God in my life. But my experience is teaching me something that they never taught me. All of life isn’t necessarily, automatically “spiritual.” A better way to put it is that “All of life can be spiritual.”

A spiritual activity is not defined as something done by your spirit as opposed to by your soul or body. That’s too atomistic– too reductionistic. The question is one of motivation. A “spiritual” activity is defined as anything done by a person who is driven by the Spirit of God in whatever he is doing. It could be balancing your checkbook. It could be playing with a child. It could be mowing a yard, going to work, watching a movie, or reading a book. It’s not only while praying or singing or sitting in silence.

It’s like asking “What’s Christian Music?” The answer is that a Christian song is a song sung by a Christian. Strictly speaking, a song cannot be “Christian.” It’s not about which words are used. It’s not as if a properly arranged group of words constitutes a song being Christian. When a believer writes a song about loving his wife, it’s a Christian song because it was written and sung by a Christian. It doesn’t even have to explicitly mention God or Jesus. Similarly, a song written by an unbeliever may serve well as a song of praise or adoration towards God when a believer appropriates it for himself (rememeber when Paul said “all things are yours…”).

It’s the same way with our lives. What makes what we do spiritual is not that we are doing the right set of things/activities that can be universally labelled “spiritual.” No, what makes them spiritual is that we are doing whatever we are doing as one “in Christ.” Whatever you do in word or in deed, do in the name of the Lord. Life cannot be divided into spiritual parts and non-spiritual parts. Incidentally, I believe this also holds true for the church. We should not try too hard to distinguish “spiritual meetings” from “non-spiritual meetings” of the church. That would produce an artificial division of the things that we do. To appropriate a beautiful phrase, “Can Christ be divided?” The implied answer is No.

All of life can be spiritual. HOWEVER… that does not mean that all of life automatically is! Paul wouldn’t have told them to do everything in the name of the Lord if that were so. There are ways in which almost anything a person or a church does can be “unspiritual.” Consider this: If even religious observances themselves can be motivated by the flesh, then certainly other things can be, too. How many times have I become sick to my stomach while listening to the prayers of believers who are laboring under the illusion that it’s all about their own self-improvement or “empowering”? I see the mark of the human flesh all over that. But this is no less misguided than when a group of free-swinging believers dedicate themselves to following every whim of their own natural cravings simply because they party under the illusion that everything they do is necessarily spiritual and divine in origin.

What I’m trying to say is that there are two opposite ditches to this path that we walk. Those naturally inclined to “spiritual things” sometimes downplay the everyday. They stress the transcendence of God at the expense of His immanence. But others flatten out our lives as if all things we do are equally “of the spirit” simply because believers are doing them. This shows no discernment of the Spirit. No sense of smell.

I look forward to the maturing of our vision, when we can see the pointlessness of running to opposite extremes when it comes to “walking by the spirit.” There’s so much more to say about this, but I’ve said enough for now. I hope it makes sense to whoever reads it.

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5 Responses to “Is All of Life Spiritual?”

  1. abmo Says:

    Jip, it does and I agree with you.

    thanks for the blog

  2. J. Samuel Thomas Says:

    When you are “in the Spirit”, whatever you do is “spiritual”.

    Yes. You are right.

    “If you live in the Spirit, then also walk in then Spirit..”

    While it is true that believers automatically live in the Spirit, they do not automatically walk in the Spirit.

    I’m learning, more and more, that when I am in the Spirit, that many things that would normally “matter” to me don’t anymore. Not apathy. Satisfaction.

    It’s just a totally different way of living….a different Life.

  3. Jasmin Says:

    I liked what you said about discerning the Spirit being like the sense of smell.

    When we recognize the fragrance, we are drawn closer to the Source. We want to breathe it in, touch the petals, see the colors…

    If that sounds a little “trippy,” I apologize. All this time out in California is messing with my head 🙂

  4. J. Samuel Thomas Says:

    Perhaps the “flowering” of our experience will involve a balance of the two extremes you mention…, a place where they meet, one of Christ being the “All”.

    I keep coming back to the name of the Father, and what it means.

    I Am.

    And the name of the Son…

    I Am Salvation

    or

    I Am Deliverance

    …and you could list many other things that He Is.

  5. Kim Says:

    I agree Neil.

    It’s the incedentals that blow me away. But they shouldn’t. It should be a part of me… and it is, except I’m not always listening to my Spirit.

    Like Jesus in his physical form always did what the Father told him to do and said what the Father told him to say. That’s walking in the Spirit.

    It’s going to take me alot more practice.

    Great post!!!

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