It’s God’s plan, St. Paul says, to make “all things new.” It’s a “new creation” project.
But turn your eyes upon the broken world we live in, or the sad lot who go by the name ‘Christian’, and you’ll often find this:
Fragmentation. Brokenness. Division. Pollution. Masquerade. Deception.
It’s broken outside. And it’s broken inside.
It’s a mad, mad world. And we’re, indeed, a sad, sad lot.
If Jesus and St. Paul were all about the reconciliation of fragmented relationships – Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free, male and female, circumcised and uncircumcised, etc. – then we’ve done a whole lot to invalidate their message. If you’re a skeptic, don’t blame them. Look at us. We’re a messy bunch. Perhaps, this is why Jesus came indicting the supposedly righteous religious establishment, and be-friending the most broken and incoherent. Maybe this is why He performed miracles, as Daniel Kirk has said, restoring and re-shaloming broken things and people.
My unique focus as a Christian interested in both psychology and theology is on human fragmentation. More specifically, I’m intrigued by the idea that sin not only divided creation from its God-intent, but it split the human soul, fracturing the psyche in ways that depress and despair. It’s a “mad, mad world,” they say, and it’s curious that the ancients called human pathology “madness.” That’s what a fractured soul feels like. Drugs may help, and so may Oprah. But, psychic pain is internally divisive, splitting us into fractured and polarized parts that war within.
The Narcissist may be driven by an extremely egocentric part of himself, but others lurk underneath – Insecurity, Fear, Shame.
The Borderline knows fragmentation. She’s got a part that wars against, and another that ingratiates.
The Depressed is led by a part that commands all systems to shut down, but the voices beneath the alarm cry out – Hurt, Wronged, Betrayed.
It’s the woman who says, “Part of me loves him, and part of me hates him.” It’s the man groaning, “A part of me wants to work for the promotion, yet another part is exhausted.”
Restoration begins by noticing the division within, and giving each warring party a place at the table. Jim had no desire to acknowledge a part of himself that craved sex and sought it in all the wrong places. He was a pastor, after all, and every other part of Jim worked to keep Sex at bay. But Sex was a part that demanded attention. Unacknowledged, Sex went underground, looking for life in massage parlors and in porn. Yet, when Jim finally gave the part called Sex a voice, he heard something strange. “I’m all alone. I just want to be held.” Beneath the perversion was a classic and holy longing. And this surprised Jim. And so, he gave Sex more opportunities to speak, and asked other judging parts of him to quiet down a bit. Turns out, Sex decided to leave its former life of perversion, and transform roles within Jim’s internal world. In time, Sex chose a different name – Intimacy. And it became a voice within that reminded Jim, quite rightly, to long for relationship in its beauty and sensuality in a way that connected him to others, rather than objectifying and using them.
The Christian journey is a journey from fragmentation to wholeness, from division to integrity. The New Testament “code word” for this restored and integrated state, in my humble and weak-Greek opinion, is katharos – clean, pure, integrated, undivided. Blessed are the pure in heart. Blessed are those who hearts have moved from war to peace. Blessed are those whose fragmented psyches have been repaired. Blessed is Jim, whose parts named Sex and Shame smoked the peace pipe, shook hands, and decided, by God’s grace, to repent (to turn away from its enslaved state to its God-intended state). Perhaps, if the mad, mad world saw Christians moving into wholeness and away from division, both internal and external, it would stop saying, Hypocrite! (divided one, one who says and does two different things) and start saying, Shalom!