Bob Tamasy: Not Just A Sunday Kind Of Thing

Monday, October 11, 2021 - by Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy
Bob Tamasy

Compartments. Lots of things have them – toolboxes, purses, refrigerators, desks, cars, luggage. All designed to keep stuff in predictable places for easy access when needed. Many people like to divide areas of their lives into compartments as well, for much the same reason.

 

Most of us work, have families, and maintain active personal lives. Often those don’t intersect, and that’s typically by intent. Our working lives stay independent of family and personal pursuits. Almost like socks and underwear stored in separate drawers, or fruit and vegetables kept in compartments away from the meat and cheese in the refrigerator.

We don’t like to take workplace problems home, and conversely find it necessary not to bring personal issues with us to work.

 

In this common scenario, every dimension of life has a meaningful place, but we “segregate” them. Even relationships might be separated – friends at work; tennis or golf buddies; people we interact with at church, or folks we regularly encounter at school PTA meetings. We try to make sure they don’t venture beyond carefully prescribed boundaries.

 

To an extent, that’s understandable, but it also can be detrimental. Because unlike Clark Kent, we can’t just step into a phone booth (who can find one anyway?) and turn into Superman, or vice versa. Unlike fruit and deli meats, the facets of our total being can’t be conveniently divided.

 

One reason for this is that we’re also multi-dimensional individuals made up of mind, body and spirit. Try as we might, those can’t be so easily separated. When reading a book, I might be engaging my mind primarily, but if my body’s in pain, the act of reading will be a challenge. And if tackling some mechanical task, it usually helps to bring thinking caps to the party.

 

The penchant toward compartmentalization is particularly common in the area of religion (or spirituality). We go to our preferred places of worship on Sunday for an hour or two a week. If we’re really devoted, maybe a couple hours more than that. But once we’ve put in the time, we exit to live out the rest of the week, often with little thought about God or matters of faith.

 

Unless there’s a major problem of some sort, in which case we suddenly return our thoughts to Him and urgently pray something like, “Um, Lord, I’m in a bit of a bind. Have you noticed what’s going on down here?”

 

I know, because that’s where I was at one time. Out of habit, I’d make my weekly appearance at church. The rest of the week I’d be cruising along, effectively living like a practical atheist, unless a bump in the road prompted me to send up a “flare prayer,” beseeching God for His timely intervention. Once the crisis had passed, I’d return to my state of spiritual indifference until it was time again to punch my spiritual attendance card, hoping to remain in good standing.

 

Of course, the Scriptures say nothing about living compartmentalized lives – especially in our relationship with the Lord Jesus. If anything, we’re exhorted to do just the opposite. I think of the apostle Paul’s urgent exhortation to believers in the ancient church of Colossae. He wrote:

“Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:16-17).

 

Paul doesn’t qualify his admonition by saying “when you’re in church” or “when participating in a religious observance.” He’s clearly saying that whatever we do, whenever and wherever we’re doing it, we’re to do it in ways that honor and please the Lord.

 

Perhaps for emphasis, several verses later Paul reiterates his instructions: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward” (Colossians 3:23-24). It’s clear the apostle wasn’t saying this with weekly worship services in mind, because he prefaced it by stating, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything” (Colossians 3:22). We’re to do our work throughout the week “as for the Lord.”

 

Nearly four centuries ago, Brother Lawrence, a Carmelite monk in Paris, France, embraced this important biblical precept. Even in performing the lowliest, most tedious chores, he believed God should remain our focus. This desire to experience continual intimacy with the Lord is recorded in his book, The Practice of the Presence of God, which was compiled and published after his death.

 

My own notion that the church building was where God lived and where I would visit Him once a week changed dramatically about 40 years ago. If, as Galatians 2:20 declares, “…it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me,” then it didn’t matter whether I was in a sanctuary, an office or on a tennis court – He was with me wherever I went. And I was to live for Him not just for a couple hours a week, but every day, every waking hour.

 

God blessed me by bringing many people into my life over the years who not only believed this but also demonstrated it consistently, showing how it could be done. My work in some respects could remain “compartmentalized,” keeping it separate from my family life and personal pursuits. But if I truly desired to follow and serve the Lord Jesus, I couldn’t put Him into some neat compartment. He wanted to infuse every aspect of my life, no matter what I was up to.

 

The apostle Paul summarized this simply when he declared, “For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Embodying this, I’ve learned, is not a destination but a lifelong journey. Most of all, it’s not something that belongs in a compartment. Like the air we breathe, we can’t get away from it and we can’t do without it.


* * *

Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is btamasy@comcast.net.


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