One morning, decades ago, when I was working in a bank, a staff member reported to me in panic that her department’s one and only electronic typewriter, had completely broken down. Panic quickly spread across the department because that one and only electronic typewriter was needed to meet the many on-the-spot requests of walk-in customers daily. Upon receiving our urgent request for assistance, a service technician quickly rushed to our department to try and repair the electronic typewriter.
Meanwhile, the staff and I braced ourselves for a day of long queues with frustrated customers. To our surprise however, in less than 5 minutes the technician managed to get that electronic typewriter working perfectly again as before. With a chuckle, the technician told me that the power cord had become dislodged from the wall socket, and the equipment was therefore disconnected from its power source. All that was needed for that equipment to be working again was to connect it back to its source of power. If we were to see that as an analogy for the Christian life, we could be tempted to think that all we need is to ensure we are connected to our Source, God Himself.
While we must indeed be connected to God, if we are to have the power needed to live and function as Christians, we must also note that scripture after scripture testifies to us that God empowers us by attending to the various parts of our being in a way that is comprehensive and wholistic. We see this in the account of Elijah in 1 Kings 19:1-18.
There we see how God ministered comprehensively and wholistically to a burnt out, weakened and vulnerable, anxious and depressed Elijah, by using sleep and food to restore Elijah physically, emotionally and mentally, and by using His Word, even in a still small voice to restore Elijah spiritually. May this also help us to see that we do not to choose between medicine and prayer, but to receive both as from God.
And if we would learn further from God, the importance of engaging not only the various aspects, but to engage them as a whole, we would see the well-known biblical text of Acts 2: 42-47 quite differently. There we see believers devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. While each of the four have been recognized as being the essentials for the church, what has not been as recognized however, is that the four are not meant to be mutually exclusive silos but meant to be comprehensively connected and engaged as a whole.
It is in engaging the four comprehensively, that the believers became capable of those amazing acts and experiences:
“And all believed together and had all things in common. And they were
selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Are you engaging all of these four?
Rev. Joseph Goh