In the church we focus most of our energies on a few areas of life more than others: worship, education, and stewardship of our facilities and resources. Sometimes we even do a pretty good job at investing our efforts and energies in outreach and mission work. As good as we may do at those things, there are other areas of life which we don’t invest much into as a congregation. We deal very little with issues of physical and mental/emotional health and well-being, for example. The result is a compartmentalized life in which people rarely connect their faith to certain aspects of how they live. When we aren’t investing our whole selves in Christian discipleship, our lives are only partially transformed. What God is after is complete and total transformation.
For example, look at Mark 12:28-31:One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
What God wants is for our heart (our passion, our love, our desires, our relationships), our soul (the deepest core of our being, our spirit), our mind (our beliefs, our thoughts, our emotions), and our strength (our physical bodies, our actions, our daily living) to all be in the process of being conformed to Christ. That’s not possible if we only focus on our soul and mind, but not our strength or heart. Additionally, God wants us to love our neighbors as ourselves. In order to do this we have to be able to love ourselves. And that takes work. It involves taking care of ourselves. And when we love others as ourselves, we begin to truly understand what it means to be in relationship with God.
Investing our ministry efforts and our resources in ways that will touch heart, soul, mind, strength, and neighbor is a holistic focus. Focusing on wholeness, both wholeness as individuals and wholeness as a community, looks something like the church described in Acts 2: 43-47: Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
The early Christians didn’t just focus on specific beliefs. They approached their life of faith holistically, caring for spiritual, physical, and intellectual needs. They cared for each other and provided for each other in ways that made a real, substantial, tangible difference in everyday life.
The result was that they became a completely transformed community. People looked at Christians and at the Christian community and saw something so completely different than they could see anywhere else in the world. They saw people who were being transformed, cared for, and loved...not partially, but completely. And they wanted to be a part of it. In approaching their faith and life holistically they became a different kind of people, and it was attractive!
Whole People, Holy People is an initiative intended to help us approach a holistic focus in our faith and life. By focusing on the greater picture of Christian wholeness we, too, can become a transformed community! We, too, can become something attractive, something different than can be seen anywhere else, something other people want to be a part of!