Last week during our Spiritual DNA class at MPCC, we talked about how important it is to keep Christ at the center of our lives and to pursue him in everything. It reminded me of a little diagram that I picked up in my doctoral work that really helps me see what is meant by living a Christ-centered life. We all know that without Christ in every segment of our lives, that we are thrown out of alignment to his life, his ways, and his teaching. This diagram is called The Formation Field–and it is a model of your life. It is a concept that I learned from one of my mentors, Dr. Adrian van Kaam.
All of us has an Interior World.
In our Interior World, we experience things like our deep devotions, longings, and emotions. It is here where our hearts are touched with wonder, awe, joy, and other intense feelings. Our Interior World is also the place where we sense the call of God on our lives and is the well from which we express our love to God and to others. It includes our thoughts, our fears–it is the place that houses the true mystery of who we are.
Each of us also has a world that encompasses all our relationships.
Our Relational World is that place in us that deals with all our relationships with other people: our spouses, our children, our parents, our colleagues, our roommates, our loved ones, and even our enemies.
We all are situated within a context of time and space and situation.
Our Situated World is where you are currently placed in your life and also in history. It refers to your station in life, your economic situation, your actual address, your employment situation, your personal history or the time in which you live, and basically your entire current reality.
We are part of a global community.
Lastly, we are part of a wider world and we relate to it daily. Whether we are on the internet or we are considering the science of global warming on our planet, we realize that our actions and very lives affect the entirety of the planet. We might sponsor a child in a third-world country. We might do a short-term mission experience or read a book about a far away land. Whatever the case, we realize that we are not isolated from the entirety of the inhabitants of our world.
Does the above drawing remind you of anything you have seen before? Have you been to a baseball game? Sure you have. You see the image of this Formation Field model looks just like a baseball field with four bases and a Pitcher’s Mound. Notice the arrows that run to and from each base and through the Pitcher’s Mound. Notice who is on the Pitcher’s Mound … yes, that’s right–God. When God is firmly planted at the center of your Formation Field (life)–or on the “Pitcher’s Mound” all of these compartments of your life are properly oriented and aligned in him. But what happens when we begin to replace God/Jesus at the center of that field (life) with ourselves? What happens when we replace God with me? Isn’t this exactly what we see happening with Adam and Eve in Genesis, chapter 3!? Absolutely. We replace God with our prideful self, usurping the rightful place of God. And when we do, these quadrants become out of alignment with God.
Have you ever noticed that when you are having internal conflict with God, that it affects your everyday relationships? Or, what about your situated life? Have you noticed that when you are in a very negative employment situation that it is very easy to focus on yourself to the point of totally ignoring anything else around you? All four of these aspects of your life need to be in alignment with God or they will affect each other to the point that they all become out of alignment with God. Have you noticed that when you have a great devotional life, that your marriage seems sweeter? Sure. Or when you love your employment situation you are more friendly to your co-workers?
This little drawing helps me self evaluate all the time to remind myself not to get on the Pitcher’s Mound of my own life, but to have God/Christ/Holy Spirit (the Trinitarian God!!) take his rightful place. If I want to occupy any of that space that is reserved for him, I begin to get out of alignment with him; and when that happens, I become a fragmented person trailing off the path he has set before me. It also allows me to see how my life is integrated with all of these aspects working in harmony with each other: my interior world, my relational world, my situated world, and my global world.
“…. and in Him all things hold together.” –Colossians 1:17b