A pastor asked me, “How integrated are you?” I wanted to google “integrated” so I could better grasp the question. I looked it up afterwards: “To make into a whole by bringing all parts together; unify”. He said that each person is made up of three components: spirit (the God-aware part), soul (mind, will, desires where decision battles take place), and body (will manifest the action based on the prevailing decision between spirit and soul). In an integrated person, those three components align together like three pieces of meat on a barbecue stick.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 says “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Blamelessness takes place when the soul and body agree with the (God-aware) spirit. It takes the grace and power of God to align those three components. They are most likely to be misaligned or dis-integrated during a crisis when the God-aware component may know the right thing to do but the soul (seat of the mind, self-will, and desires) may want to dash into another direction before the body acts.
The pastor shared with me that an integrated person will have the discipline to get the soul and body to follow the God-aware spirit. He can master himself knowing that the consequences of giving in to temptation are greater and more chaotic than its promise of temporary pleasure. He can tell his emotions (to borrow Malcolm in the Middle’s words): “You are not the boss of me”. An integrated person will not let passing emotion take away his honor or consume him. Only God should have that power. An integrated person will sense the danger when he wants something that is wrong.
The pastor gave me tips on how to be integrated:
1. Decide way ahead of time, before a crossroad that you will yield to God’s way. To have the “cross the bridge when you get there” mindset, it will be as difficult as stopping Niagara Falls from falling to say no to temptation.
2. Know that there are certain situations that call for you to say “no”. Weak, disintegrated persons will say yes to everything.
3. Identify those moments when you are vulnerable (hungry, sleepy, tired, sick, traveling alone) so you can guard yourself from letting your flesh lead.
4. Feed your spirit and train yourself to submit to God. Compromise (accepting the “respectable sins” like anger, resentment, grumbling, gossiping, etc.) will make dull your spiritual discipline.
5. When faced with a crisis, don’t give in to discouragement, depression or destructive responses. Choose to integrate your spirit, soul, and body. Remember that God is not finished yet. He knows the ending will be victorious, perhaps not exactly as you expect but in Him, you are more than a conqueror.
6. Pray without ceasing. Ask (a) mature Christian(s) to pray with you and for you. Even Jesus asked His disciples to pray with Him. Prayer will better enable you to make an integrated decision. Don’t isolate yourself from other believers. You need to be strengthened.
Perhaps the expression “Get yourself together” comes from this concept of integrating the spirit, soul, and body. Psalm 86:11 gives us an apt prayer for this end: “Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”
SONG: LORD, I GIVE YOU MY HEART