II CORINTHIANS 6:3-4, 7: “We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses…by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left…” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Am I a compartmentalized Christian? This is a question that must first be defined in order to be answered. In the sixth chapter of II Corinthians, Paul gives some of the character qualities and life experiences of a minister of God. He is not speaking merely of the Apostles and leaders, but of all men and women who claim to be ministers, servants, and followers of Jesus Christ.
This list is filled with personal qualities and also many of the trials and sufferings that one can expect when they take up their cross and follow Jesus. It would probably be a good list for people to consider before they half-heartedly decide to become a Christian. Yet, as I read this list again, and the verses noted are just a small sampling of this list, the words that struck a chord with me were,
- “…By the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.”
This brings us to the definition of the opening question. What does it mean to live a life as a compartmentalized Christian? Imagine a football player entering an important playoff game. Half of his clothing was fully equipped with the proper protective gear and shoes, the other half was only a tank top, swim trunks, and flip-flops. Other than looking quite strange it is easy to imagine that this player would not do well in the competition and more than likely would be seriously hurt in the process.
A compartmentalized Christian tries to live with one foot in the world and one foot in the Kingdom. This is the way I grew up as a young believer. We confessed we believed in Jesus Christ, yet our lives were markedly different on Sunday than they were on Monday – Saturday. I surely was not clothed in the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left. On Sunday I put on my Christian face and for the rest of the week, I lived like someone who was in the world.
It would be easy to jump from this point to talk about all the things a Christian should not do. Paul goes on to exhort us not to be yoked together with unbelievers. However, the more subtle expression of living a compartmentalized Christian life is not simply in what we do or do not do, it is in what we think. How we view life and the issues of life will lead to our actions in life. If our thinking is askew then our actions will follow.
To live a life of compartmentalized faith is to relegate our Christianity to the sacred and never intersect it with the secular.
Two of the key social issues that illustrate this more than any other are the issues of gay marriage and abortion. These are issues that many churches will not even discuss from the pulpit so as to not offend anyone. They are issues that are being force-fed to us through all forms of media. To oppose either is to be a hate monger and a bigot. So, many people today who claim to be Christian hold views that are not Biblical. They have dismissed the Word of God in this area but continue to hold onto it for the areas that fit their lifestyle.
THIS IS THE EPITOME OF COMPARTMENTALIZED CHRISTIANITY!
In a recent survey, George Barna found that only 4% of Evangelical believers hold a Biblical Worldview. Evangelicals are defined as those who profess to believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God and the final authoritative word in all matters of faith and practice. Yet, when the recent Roe-v-Wade decision was handed down, Facebook was filled with professing Christians on the wrong side of the issue.
Instead of celebrating life, they fell in rank with the conventional wisdom of our day.
What is the answer to this dilemma the church finds itself in today? We need to put on the armor of righteousness, on the right hand and the left. In other words – we need to live ALL of our life through the revelation of God’s Word. The Bible is clear on the two issues stated. Marriage is a sacred institution between one man and one woman. It cannot be redefined by man. And, all life is sacred, from the unborn to the elderly. We cannot treat life in any other way and confess to being a Christian.
I once was a compartmentalized Christian. Then, I surrendered my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and my eyes were opened. Yet, every day there are attacks against my walk of faith. There are moment-by-moment choices that I am compelled to make. The world is pulling at each and every believer to lay down their cross. There is no room for complacency in the days that we are facing. We need to hear the exhortation once again that Paul closes this chapter with.
- “Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty.” II Corinthians 6:17-18 NKJV
This is not a call to live on a mountaintop away from the world. Neither is it a call to walk in a false sense of superiority as did the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. Rather, this is a call to live an authentic life of faith, to take the breastplate of righteousness (in Christ), and live out our faith in sincere authenticity, honesty, and love. It is being willing to suffer for righteousness’ sake as we proclaim the unchanging Word of God.
It is living life with only ONE COMPARTMENT – a heart filled with faith!
Lord, in these ever-changing times, help me to live authentically, honestly, and fully surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the truth of Your Word! Help me to maintain the balance of being separate from the world and engaged with it at the same time – proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will hear! Wash me, cleanse me, and help me to daily turn my heart and life to You completely!
In Jesus’ Name!