Dealing with Spiritual Dissonance

I've never been a fan of jazz, because I don't enjoy some of the dissonance in the music. Some might enjoy the tension and clash of sounds, but dissonance rattles my bones.

Yet as I reacted to some disharmonious music on a television program recently, I believe I heard the voice of God's spirit commenting on some spiritual dissonance in my life. "You say one thing, but do another," the Voice said. "You tell women to be authentic, but what about this area of your life?"

A recent incident flashed across my mind ~ a situation when I didn't tell the truth. Actually, I exaggerated the truth to the point where it was a lie. We used to call this "evangelistically speaking" when I traveled with a revival team. Not a good thing. It's hypocrisy.

Truth is one of my life values, so when God pointed out the dissonance, I cringed.

My husband Bob, who works with the International School Project, speaks about one reason for spiritual dissonance in one of his messages. "We tend to compartmentalize our lives," he says, "and when we do that, the spiritual does not carry over into our everyday decisions."

It's easy to blame others for this kind of hypocrisy, but I wonder how often I compartmentalize. How often do I relegate the spiritual to designated parts of my life, and ignore it or shut it out in other areas? And what are the results when I do?

The word "authentic" crops up a lot in Christian circles these days. Authenticity speaks to the core of a person ~ being real to the true self. For the Christian, it represents alignment with core values that are based in the Word of God ~ living with character and integrity.

Authenticity means that we accept and embrace who we are, a much beloved child of God, and we live in ways that please our Father. We don't act like part-time believers, but we are wholly His ~ wholly devoted and obedient.

I believe the Bible offers us at least Five Steps in Dealing with our Spiritual Dissonance.

First, we Recognize the Dissonance in our Heart. We need to understand that we sometimes depart from fellowship with God when our hearts want something else more, at any given moment. All of us are tempted to sin when we are drawn away by our own natural desires and away from what God desires for us (James 1:14). God sees beyond outward appearance to our hearts, and we need to admit it when our harmonious relationship with Him takes on some dissonant notes.

Second, we Realize the Root Cause of our Dissonance. We have a new nature in Christ, and God is making us more like His son; but we have free will to reject God's work in our lives, too. James 1:15 tells us that our various lusts conceive and give birth to sin. We want what we want ~ things, pleasures, attention (1 John 2:16). When we want them more than what God wants for us ~ when our focus is on our wants rather than His ~ we are open to falling into sin.

Third, we Repent of Any Sin that Causes Dissonance. We don't rationalize it away or justify it; we take sin seriously. We realize that sin separates us from fellowship with our loving Father. God is light, and he cannot fellowship with darkness. Our sins are already forgiven in Christ, but we must still repent of sin ~ turning from it (1 John 1:8-10). We must be honest in dealing with God

Fourth, we Resist Temptations that Lead to New Dissonance. We use the weapon that helps us fight our tendency to compartmentalize our lives ~ the Word of God (2 Corinthians 10:4-5; Hebrews 4:12). We embrace truth and resist from the enemy's lies (1 Peter 5:8). We take refuge in God and seek his "way of escape" (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Fifth, we Refocus on Harmony to Weaken Future Dissonance. First, we praise and worship God ~ we renew our relationship with Him. Then, we build up the areas of our life that are weak (2 Peter 1:5-9).

Our spiritual dissonance grieves the Lord. We forget that everything we are and have is because of our Father's goodness and love. We are His, bought with a high price, and we are no longer "our own" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

God gives us complete freedom to choose; but our responsibility is to harmonize our lives with the Word of God, pleasing our Father.

A model for spiritual authenticity is Colossians 1:10: "... that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God...."

How does spiritual dissonance creep into your life? What has God taught you about living an authentically biblical life?

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