12 March, 2016 40 days of change-Lent, 2016
Wholeness – You know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:27
A piece of steel may be tested to see if it has integrity, meaning it has no flaws. I have encouraged us to examine ourselves to see if there are any flaws in our integrity. The word integrity has at its root the word integer, which comes from a latin word that means whole. For something to have integrity, it must be whole. It is not an uncommon feeling for a person to feel somehow incomplete. You hear people feeling incomplete before marriage, thinking romantically that being married somehow might complete them. Although marriage can be lovely, it does not complete us. You may hear the same wishful thinking from people in the mid-way point of a career, thinking their chosen profession is not leading anywhere and they feel incomplete. It’s hard to sum up the complexity of the feeling of not being whole, but it is a sense that one’s full potential for being is not reached and there is something more.
In Jesus final hour he pronounced ‘it is finished’. He could have been referring to his life being finished, his mission being finished, evil being finished, or all of the foregoing. Whatever it was, Jesus was sensing completeness. I wonder if it was the sense that separation from the Father, caused by our sin that he was carrying, was now over, and he was being reunited to the oneness that he had shared with the Father for all eternity. Jesus had cried moments before ‘my God, why have you forsaken me’, but that was not his final word. Finished was his final word. That same moment brought completeness –– finish –– wholeness for him and us. The word most commonly used in the New Testament for saved is the word sozo, which means to make whole. For that which separates us from God, our sin is wiped away by what Christ finished, and our God relationship is made whole. We are made whole.
But why don’t we sense that wholeness? Christians, even after coming to salvation, can feel empty and incomplete. In part, it has to do with the reality of our living conditions; we live in a fallen world and the world and ourselves continue to tell us lies about what it means to be whole. So, we are never contented with what God has given us. The story of Jesus healing the lepers comes to mind. When Jesus healed a leper, it would say in some translations he made them whole. In the story of the 10 lepers, the narrative says he cleansed them, but the one who turned back to give thanks, was made whole. The others were physically healed, but the only one who was made whole was the one with the thankful heart. Is it possible the act of gratitude corrects the lies that tell us we need something different, and enables us to recognise the wholeness of being one with God. If you find yourself searching for something more, stop to say thanks and in doing so you may discover how whole you actually are. Maybe this is an area where the change has already been made, and the only other change that is needed is for us to realise it.