Integration is so vital, but it is hindered by our tendency to compartmentalize the faith. Our educational and cultural training in the west teaches us to compartmentalize the different aspects of our lives. We divide up our educational spaces into different subjects, such as, math, biology, chemistry, history, English, and more. We put students in grades according to their ages. We compartmentalize people according to ages and marital status. We also treat the aspects of our lives as different compartments, as different drawers in a cabinet. Work, family, hobbies, church, and faith all become separate drawers in the cabinet of our lives.
Yet, our faith is not supposed to be relegated to one of the drawers in the cabinet of our lives. When we turn to Christ, Jesus comes to live within us. He not only lives within us, he becomes the center of our lives. Jesus and the Spirit are like leaven, permeating and transforming everything we think and do.
Therefore, our faith is more like a spider’s web than one of the drawers in a cabinet. Anywhere you touch a spider’s web, you connect with the center. In like manner, if you touch any aspect of a believer’s life, you connect with Jesus. This is integration.
When our friends see the impact of Jesus upon us, they become open to listen to our explanations of who makes us the way we are.
In the compartmentalized life, the Gospel is treated as a special set of words, relegated to one drawer in the filing cabinet that often stays closed because we rarely have the opportunity to open it and pull out the contents.
In contrast, when we integrate our faith into our lives, we are always in some way sharing something about the Gospel, no matter what we are doing, no matter what we are talking about. As our relationships deepen, our sharing also deepens. People want to know the source of the hope and the love that they see in us. As relational respect grows, we have more and more natural opportunities to proclaim Christ crucified, risen, ascended, living within us, and calling all to live under his loving Lordship. In this way the richness and the beauty of what God offers is proclaimed fully, and we find ourselves doing what Jesus commanded us to do in Matthew 28:20: “teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you.”