Posts Tagged ‘integrity’

Getting It All Together

missing piece“Therefore, you shall be complete just like your Father in heaven is complete.” –Matthew 5:48

Is there something missing in your life?  What Jesus seems to be saying to his followers is that we can be whole.   Some Bible translations use the word ‘perfect’ instead of ‘complete’ but that completely misses Christ’s intention.  (Be perfect!?!)  What a horrible way to translate a perfectly good word.  The Greek word means completion or wholeness.  It gives the sense of having all of the pieces in place.  There is no way that Jesus calls us to be perfect!  He is human.  He knows what we go through.  How can we be perfect when it is so easy to spill milk or stub a toe?

Yet Jesus wants those people who climb the mountain with him to be complete, not flawless.  What does that mean?  Being complete, or whole, means that we have integrity.  We are whole when we are able to integrate all that we think, feel, and act together.   To use the great psychologist, Carl Rogers, phrase, Jesus wants us to have ‘congruence’ so that our actions match our beliefs, and vice versa.  “Congruence,” explains Rogers, “Is . . . an accurate matching of experiencing and awareness.”  It is ensuring that all of our inner desires and thoughts go along with our life experiences.  A baby has congruence.  It is perhaps the only time in our lives when our emotions match our actions.  We smile, giggle, and coo when we are content.  A baby cannot hide her or his feelings very well.

Another way to explain Jesus’ imperative is to remember the flight instructor in the movie, Top Gun.  Do you remember when he says, “Your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash”?  I am not completely sure what he means by this funny phrase but I am pretty sure that it means to have integrity or congruence.  It is being complete.  It is doing what we believe.  It is not sounding like Isaac and feeling like Esau, to use an Old Testament reference.  Being complete is putting it all together.  It is believing, acting, speaking, and feeling all the same thing.

Jesus explains that we are complete when we love.  To be a follower of Christ, up the mountain, we can be whole, just like the Father, when we affirm the importance of others.  It is one thing to say we want to be a Christian.  But unless we act like Dad, and love, then we are missing a very important piece.

Matthew 5:8

“How fortunate are the sincere because they will see God.”

In the movie, “The Break Up,” a couple argues over washing dishes.  Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) and Gary (Vince Vaughn) finish hosting a dinner party.  Gary is exhausted so he sits down to play a video game.  Brooke is also tired but she doesn’t want to wake up to a dirty kitchen.  She cleans up instead.  She goes into the living room where Gary sits.  She explains that she is tired and that she wants help.  Gary throws down the game controller muttering, “”Fine, I’ll help you with the stinkin’ dishes.”  That’s not enough for Brooke.  She wants more!  So she says, “Oh come on, that’s not what I want.”  “You just said,” Gary clarifies, “that you want me to do the dishes.”  “I want you to want to do the dishes,”  Brooke further explains.  It’s not enough for her that he’s going to get off his tired butt and do something.  It’s not enough that he’s going to wash the dishes.  She wants him to want to do the dishes.  She wants him to have an inner desire to join her in her fight for a clean kitchen. 

And then Gary adds the clincher line.  It’s the line that explains the exact position of his heart on the matter.  He exclaims, “Why would I want to do the dishes?”  To which Brooke says, “See, that’s my whole point.”

Perhaps this is Jesus’ point as well.  There are a lot of people who perform religious acts.  Lots of people do things because that’s what God “wants” them to do.  In Christ’s day, there are lots of laws.  And everyone tries to do what they are supposed to do because they are supposed to do it.  We all try to look clean.  We all try to appear virtuous.  What Jesus wants is more!  He wants his followers to not obey laws because they are laws.  Anyone can obey a law just like any person can wash dishes for Brooke.  Jesus wants us to be more than clean on the outside by merely doing what God wants.  Jesus calls for a purity of heart.  It’s a call for congruence.  It’s an invitation to be people of integrity.

Brooke and Gary’s relationship becomes a sense of duty.  Do they even have a relationship if they’re just filling roles like actors on a stage?  They cannot see each other because their expectations get in the way.  And the same is true with our relationship with God.  The laws cover our eyes.  Our own desire to be good blocks our vision.  When we take off the facade and be ourselves with God, then we really experience God.   As the theologian Emil Brunner writes, “When I stand opposite to God, I am face to face with [God] who unconditionally is no ‘something,’ who in the unconditional sense is pure ‘Thou.'”   God is no longer the Person-Who-Tells-Us-What-To-Do when we take off our pious masks.  We finally see God once we are unconditional with God.

%d bloggers like this: