I spend eight hours out of every weekday enclosed in a cubical. This is my American reality. The river of commerce seems to be forever flowing—and I am used as a pawn to keep it steady.
Life inside the flow of commerce does many things. It consolidates my thoughts, navigating them to a specific genre, like loans and mortgages, and there is not much time for any other kind of thought, except for the occasional wondering moment accompanied by a wave of joy or sorrow.
While this is the case, I am thankful for my job and its drastic help with carrying the financial burden. However I have a growing distaste for an obvious side effect—compartmentalization. For those eight hours I think "those" thoughts, complete "those" actions, press "those" tasks and daily repeat the process. For eight hours I am separated from any other greater reality, aside from my pressing occupational responsibilities.
There is a problem here. Dallas Willard has spoken of it as "Toward Integration of Life and Faith"—claiming that the purpose of our lives is to be mixed completely with God, our life giver. We were made for total integration. Commerce forces us to compartmentalize. Christ is beckoning us towards total assimilation with Himself, and simultaneously we are swinging off-beat like an unbalanced metronome desperate to find its timing. To me this is a problem. Our compartmentalization keeps us from blurring into the greater plan.
A.W. Tozer offers a broader perspective, saying many Christians find much solace in believing in God’s creation of the beginning and in His preplanned dramatic grand finale at the end, but that not much thought is given to the present. He compared it to a form of atheism— pro tem atheism, wherein one believes God’s existence is real in the beginning and even the end, but suggests that He is absent in-between. His insight highlights our problem: we struggle with seeing Christ’s presence in our present realities. Thus we are unable to integrate. This is the problem: You and I.
I am learning to see the problem more clearly. I hear mankind separate many things that ought not be divorced and I see many things grouped that are not kindred. For instance, humanity gloats over financial gain, calling it success, but by God’s definition of success, the two are incomparable. We categorize, using our assumptions like puzzle pieces, and our big picture view of the puzzle is incomplete. Our problem is our view of Christ, and compartmentalization only propagates our thinking. We naturally think Christ is to be excluded from these hourly segments out of each day, because we cannot find a balance or a way to squeeze Him in. So we separate.
Commerce is not the only entity that is infected; this virus has incapacitated each aspect of human reasoning. We hear the Church say, "Christ wants more of your life." We hear Christ say, "I want you entirely." Total integration.
Here is our problem: Day in and day out we remove Christ from certain thoughts and actions, unknowingly believing He doesn’t fit in those compartments. This is our reality: All day long God is reaching into our condition, sending certain thoughts and desires, arousing certain emotions and calming unhealthy patterns, calling us further towards love/life, showing us that he is to be experienced in every piece of His creation and known in every ordinary fraction-of-a-second.
If Paul can rejoice about his contentment in God’s presence while lacerated in a jail cell, then we too can live with that kind of perspective in both enjoyable and daunting situations.
What does Christ have to do with commerce? Everything. The presence of Christ is not only evidence of God, our Father, the Cosmic Collaborator, but also of His Spirit-like substance oozing into each segment of our daily schedules. God reaching in, like a magician to our world and showing us that it is His. We separate it, and call it business … Christ integrates it, and calls it life.
"Neglected Christian truths can be revitalized only when by prayer and long meditation we isolate them from the mass of hazy ideas with which our minds are filled and hold them steadily and determinedly in the focus of the mind’s attention." —A.W. Tozer
"I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full." —Jesus Christ
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