Currently, it seems like being in two places at the same time is the new normal. It is not uncommon to be in conversation with someone and watch them grab for their phone and scroll to check their recent notifications. It seems entirely normal to sit and watch TV while your laptop or phone is close at hand, halfway monitoring each technological device. When I go to the movies, something that actually costs money to do, I still find people ignoring the “no cell phone” etiquette and searching their Facebook feed 20 minutes into the film. Many of us are leaving voice recordings as we drive or sending text messages as we grocery shop with our young kids. So while it seems to us that we are indeed “being in two places at once”, in reality, we are not fully present in either place.
What is this kind of behavior getting us? In a few words: anxiety, stress, confusion, depression, watered-down life, broken relationships, loss of compassion, isolation, and in extreme cases, death.
So why do we choose to do this? I’m as guilty as anyone. I could check off 3 of the 4 above mentioned things on almost any given day. In fact, why are we even capable of doing this? As a doctor, and one who teaches Human Anatomy and Physiology, I wonder about things like this. The Bible tells us we have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God, created in His image and “knit together in our Mother’s womb”. Our physical bodies and minds were designed with purpose. So why do we have this ability to occupy ourselves with two or even more things at once if most of the time it just leads to vastly negative results?
I believe the answer is in the application of our ability. In other words, there is a reason we are designed this way and it has everything to do with our relationship with God, and even our relationships with others. Somewhat surprisingly, we are indeed created to be in two places at once, but those places are heaven and earth. Phrased differently, those places are the spiritual and the physical. When we learn to master the art of being in those two places at once, the result we find is life. Abundant life.
In the Bible, we find many verses that support and lead us to embrace this art. In John 15 we read Jesus’ teaching where He uses the metaphor of the vine and the branches. People who know me know that this is one of my all time favorite passages of scripture. I think I love it so much because, for me, it clearly explains the way that I can really find and enjoy life. On my own, “apart from Him”, I can do nothing, but as I “remain in Him”, I can find life and purpose and joy and even bring glory to God.
In Acts, we are told to “live and move and have our being” in Him. In Galatians, we see that the fruits, or the results, that come from living a life in the Spirit, are "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control."
So the next time you find yourself doing two different things in the physical world, why not drop one of those things and instead make sure you are also present in the spiritual world? By detaching from your phone, or tv, or computer, or media voices and reattaching yourself to Christ, the vine, you will reap positive results instead of negative ones. You will actively be training yourself to choose life over death. And before you know it, all those “fruits of the Spirit” will be evident in your life and you will even reveal God’s character and great love to others in need.