Whole, wholeness, and complete are all words that we hear to describe a person that is sound in all aspects of life. Christians refer to being complete in mind, body, and spirit. There are lots of people, including Christians, who would have to say that being complete or whole sounds good, but is a hard thing to achieve. This leads me to ask some questions and seek the answers. What does it mean for us to be whole? How did we become so divided? What is the pathway back to wholeness or unity?
What is Wholeness?
Merriam-Webster defines whole as, complete or full: not lacking or leaving out any part. Another definition of whole is having all parts: not divided or cut into parts or pieces. Wholeness is the state of being unified, void of division, within oneself. Feeling whole is vital to our overall health and harmony. When I am whole, all the parts of my life are connected and functioning as they should (mind, body, spirit, personal, professional, etc.).
Why Is It Difficult to Find or Hold On To?
What is the cause of the disjointed, incomplete feeling that can permeate our lives? We can come up with, I am sure, lots of different answers. We can blame people, places, circumstances, and situations. The short answer to the question, however, is sin. The longer answer allows me to expound a bit. Mankind was created by God whole. We were created in the image and likeness of God. Within us was the same harmonious unity that existed eternally in God Himself (Father, Son, and Spirit). Choose a definition of whole from the previous paragraph, and it describes who we were at the beginning.
The Process That Leads Us Into Brokenness
What changed? What caused the transition from harmony and unity, wholeness and completeness, to disharmony and disunity? Sin. James does well to elaborate on the cycle in James 1:13-15. There he says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” We often think of sin as the physical act committed, the final thing done. James shows that the sin is part of a process that leads to disharmony, division, and brokenness (the opposite of wholeness).
The Danger of Our Desires
In James 1:13-15, we read that the cycle begins with our own desires. These desires are, according to the text, our own. We see something, we want what we see, we have a desire for it. This cycle may sound harmless because it is something that happens many times throughout the day. So what is it that makes a cycle that may happen many times in a day so dangerous to our wholeness? I believe that the key lies in the notion in the verses of “our” desire.
God’s Desires Are My Desires
Our desire can be apart from God’s desire. We can want our desires so much that we completely forget about God or His desires. This is the beginning of sin, and sin is the thing that ensures that my life will not be whole. The harmonious, unified, whole life doesn’t have any desires that aren’t God’s. If (when) such a desire does appear, it is subjugated to God’s desire. Paul alludes to this truth in 2 Corinthians 10:5, saying, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,…” Bringing every thought captive to obey Christ. The whole life is one distinguishable by its ability to stop “our” thoughts in their tracks and bring them into captivity to Christ. In contrast, as seen in James, is the desire that unchecked leads to sin (the act), the act of sin then leading to death (separation, disunity, disharmony, division).