I've always battled with integrity.
I don't mean in the sense of "firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values" so much as "the quality or state of being complete or undivided" (thanks Merriam-Webster). I want to live and "be", consistent, undivided, un-schizophrenic.
Since the day I met God and he turned me upside down I've been at odds to reconcile my heart and mind to my spirit. Now that's good christian terminology there - heart, mind, spirit, reconcile; I could use lots of words like that, but I think I need to elaborate so I can be a bit more "real". I'd read the bible and enjoy the wonders of this incredible God who offered new life, a new perspective, and eternity. But the church didn't match what the bible was saying - this was to a new christian who just read the scriptures, and wondered why they meant something different to the senior church type people who were supposed to understand these things. And then there was what happened inside me. My brain said "this is amazing" but another part of me said "so why isn't anything changing?". So there's three things battling against each other, scripture, the church and my mind.
Now I could pursue this line of thought in depth but I'll save that for another post. What I want to talk about is reconciling all this to create a life style of integrity that is natural and normal. What happens is I would adopt a religious attitude in my actions and relationships that satisfy the church side of things, and a formal relationship with God that tries to shape my thoughts and actions to fit what the church tells me is the correct way to, well. be in relationship, Then there's the part of me that just chats away to God most of the day. Now the strangest thing is these parts often don't come together. I totally devalue the bulk of the time Jesus and me talk about things through the day, and think the most important thing I can do is spend quality time praying and reading scripture and maybe worshipping. Then there's the whole range of expectations that I have to meet when talking to other christians, especially at meetings.
I desperately need to pull this all together to achieve a functional level of integrity! The mind, the struggles, the expectations, the scriptures, the spirit, relationships. So here's the thing; I realise that the bit where I chat away to God through the day is the most important bit. Kind of obvious really, but not with all the other stuff thrown in the mix. So according to the new covenant, that Jesus set up with his death and resurrection, I'm now one with him and he's one with me, my spirit has been remade sin free, and my battle is now to just renew my mind. This is so simple - why didn't someone tell me this 40 years ago!! I've discovered that I can just let go of all the expectations of the church (that includes other christians as well as the institution). I can let go of the perceived religious demands of quiet times, scripture reading, intercession, worship, all that stuff. What I've realised is the most natural relationship I have with God is also the only real relationship. All the others are worthless at best, a lie at least and destructive if the truth be known. So do I read the bible? Yes, when I feel like it. Do I pray? All the time. Do I have quiet times? Whenever I stop to gather my thoughts is really a quiet time, but I do love to go for walks where we can talk about things uninterrupted. What about disciplining myself to study and pray and listen for his voice? I discipline myself to be natural in my relationship with Him. To not listen to religion or the flesh, to allow his unconditional love to infuse every part of me so I can stand one with Jesus and Father, and Holy Spirit. To resist the lies that say "I must", I should", "I need to", and rest in the absolute peace and confidence that I have the entirety of the triune godhead in me now. To let everything that I am come from this place.
Here's some other things I can let go of. The need for waiting in his presence for the glory to come, the need to evangelise, the need to have communion, the need to be baptised, the need to fast and tithe, the need to learn Hebrew and research Jewish history, the need to learn Greek and buy lots of commentaries and concordances and set aside study times, the need to go the the latest greatest conferences, the need to worship and praise him. The need to do anything really. I only have to rest in Him and allow myself to become who he made me by the indwelling and union of his spirit. Then I'll just do whatever he recons would be the best thing to do. If that happens to be any of the above, then great. If not, I'll just soak up as much love as I can get until it just pours out of me so much I can't stop. And the best thing is I can trust him to do this. I can trust Holy Spirit in me to take me on this journey. He is totally trustworthy. He loves me more more than I could imagine.
Do I have scriptures to support all this? You bet! The whole of the New Covenant. I discovered its really easy to think the old covenant is still around and I have to mix it into the new. But the old is gone, Jesus fulfilled it and put it to rest. If I read anything in the new in a way that sounds like the old, I'm reading it wrong!
This is being a natural christian. This is integrity! Jesus plus nothing!!