The tendency is for Christians to dichotomize our lives into the secular and the spiritual. When we do this, what we are actually doing is denying God His rightful place as the Sovereign of the universe. We tend to categorize issues as spiritual or non-spiritual in a rather flippant manner. For example, going to church, reading the Bible, praying, sharing the gospel, going on mission trips and feeding the poor are clearly spiritual issues because they are all directly connected with the Christian faith as revealed in the Bible. However, other issues such as watching certain tv shows/movies, listening to certain music performers, where to go to college, credit card spending, car loans and who to marry are not always considered a spiritual issue because we want to claim religious liberty and that God has not spoken in black and white terms as He has on praying. And then there are those issues such as how I react to bad/good news or how I react in bad/good circumstances. We generally do not see these as spiritual issues because we consider them to be “in the moment’ kind of things whereas spiritual issues are things you plan ahead for in life.
My premise is this: If God is the absolute, sovereign Creator of the universe who has revealed Himself and His absolute truth in the Bible. And if the Bible is sufficient for all of life and godliness, then every issue of life is a spiritual issue because how we respond and conduct ourselves is a direct reflection of the condition of our relationship with God.
Consider this example from my life: When Tricia and I got married and moved to Wake Forest, NC for me to go to seminary, we moved into a two bedroom apartment. The day we moved in I hooked up our washer and dryer in the hallway laundry closet. Tricia started washing the towels and blankets we had used in our move. While the items were washing we were busy moving into our apartment and I was setting up our bed and other furniture. In that hallway outside the laundry closet there was a pile of items to be washed, so I did not notice the carpet in the hallway beginning to be soaking wet. However, as I was assembling a bookshelf in the room across from the laundry closet I noticed that the washing machine sounded awfully noisy. There was a much louder sound of rushing water. So, I stepped to the laundry closet and began to move the pile of towels aside to open the closet. When I did, I realized the carpet was soaking wet. What I learned a moment later was that I had not secured the water drain hose secure enough to the back of the washing machine. When the machine began the drain cycle the water pushed the hose off the machine and the water was being dumped out into the floor and running into the hallway.
No big deal, right? Just clean it up and move on. No, I lost my cool. I was frustrated that my mistake was now going to cost me more because I was going to have to get a carpet machine to help get up the large amount of water soaking in the carpet. I remember having a screwdriver in my hand from where I had been working on the bookshelf in the other room. I remember throwing it rather strongly toward the ground and it bounced up and stuck me in the leg. Now this may sound like a funny story, but there I was moving my newly wed bride into our apartment for me to go to seminary and I lost my cool over some washing machine water. This was a spiritual issue because I was not reflecting the fruit of the spirit in terms of “joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness & self control.” I had lost all of those when I reacted in the flesh rather than stopping and asking for God’s help to clean up my silly mess of water.
Financial debt is not primarily a money problem. It is a spiritual problem because people have made choices out of their wants rather than their needs and now their debt is crippling their lives. The result is a lack of joy and a lack of being able to invest in the Kingdom of God. The borrower has become a slave to the lender (Prov 22:7).
Marital problems are primarily spiritual issues because marriage, at its core, is for the purpose of glorifying God. The choice to divorce is the choice to give up on the sufficient grace and mercy of God (Gen 2:18-24; Eph 5:21-33).
A student who is being lazy with his studies has a spiritual issue because laziness is a lack of self-discipline. It is also a lack of desire to honor God and glorify Him in every part of our lives. This does not mean that God is only glorified when we make straight A’s, but it does mean that if a student has a bad attitude his attitude dishonors God regardless of what his grades look like. The Bible calls laziness “slothfulness.”
Pre-marital sex is a spiritual issue because God has clearly spoken of His intention for sex to be between a husband and wife. Sexual promiscuity is not a social issue but is a spiritual issue. Choosing to engage in such behavior is a blatant rejection of the sovereignty of God over every area of a person’s life.
In athletics winning is not the most important thing. This does not mean that God does not care about how we perform. It means that athletes must determine to glorify God with how they practice, prepare, take care of their bodies (illegal substances) and how they demonstrate a Christlike attitude whether they win or lose. As Coach Grant Taylor told his team in Facing the Giants, “Let’s do our best and leave the results up to God.”
Character, integrity, honesty, dependability, maturity …. The list could go on and on of the life character traits that are spiritual issues because they are determined by how we respond to God in any and all circumstances. The apostle Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in teh flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). John the Baptist declared, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
Every issue is a spiritual issue because there is no part of life or creation over which God is not sovereign!