Disintegration and the Need for Spiritual Disciplines

Given the state of our modern world, it seems that someone is always complaining about the disintegration of something: the family or morality or ethics or the economy. Disintegration is always described as something “out there” and not seen in terms of the self. This makes a lot of sense in an age where taking personal responsibility is of little interest and certainly not necessary from a philosophical standpoint. The problem is always somewhere else. However, this is nothing new. The first humans (Genesis 3) blamed each other and a serpent for the disintegration of their trust in God.

However, while systems and culture may indeed be disintegrating around us, the only hope is for us to deal with our own personal disintegration. In a very literal sense, the essence of sin is disintegration. Rather than living a life which is integrated (connected/abiding) with the life of God, we naturally find things in a state of dis-integration. Sins are the actions which flow from a state of disintegration. When Jesus died on the cross, He forgave us of sin and gave a new heart/a revamped soul in which integration can take place. Dallas Willard in hid books, Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ, says that integration occurs when “all of the essential parts of the human self are effectively organized around God, as they are restored and sustained by him. Spiritual transformation in Christ is the process leading to that ideal end, and its result is love of God with all of the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and of the neighbor as oneself.”

Disintegration is a reality when my body has a mind of its own (cravings of various kinds) and is not responsive to what I desire (my will). Disintegration is a reality when the social/relational part of me gives in to people pleasing rather than being quiet (which my mind may suggest quietly is the best response in given situation). When all of me (mind, body, will) is living in concert and responding lovingly to God’s direction (i.e., love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength – Matthew 22), I am living an integrated life.

The Spiritual Disciplines are key in seeing all of us become integrated and under God’s loving leadership. Fasting is a discipline which brings the body to a place of integration. Silence and solitude provide space for the social part of me to become unfettered. Meditation on Scripture transforms the mind and shifts it Godward. Spiritual disciplines, far from being restraining, actually provide freedom. A fish is most alive in the water. A human is most alive in loving, integrated connection with the Father. The discipline of water brings life to the fish. Spiritual disciplines bring life to humanity in so far as they bring integration and organization to our souls.

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~ by Ted Wueste on July 18, 2012.

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