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Whenever one looks at another, it helps to have some kind of framework in one’s mind. It is even more helpful if we can then apply that framework to understand not only the individual person, but also their system, such as their family (eg Jane's) and also any larger group that person may be in, such as their church. There are various analogies or pictures of the person, which can provide this helpful structure. For example, we are
- on a time line, like in a movie made up of multiple moments or snapshots.
- a thread in a tapestry where we weave our life alongside other threads. From the backside, it can at times look like quite a mess. From God's perspective, a pattern starts to develop as we submit our lives to Him.
- a river which has come from various tributaries. In marriage - or any coming together with another - there can be turbulence as each finds their own flow, together.
- rooms in the house. From a Christian perspective, as we invite the dominion and kingdom, the centrality and presence of Jesus into those areas of our lives, we grow into the “whole measure of the fullness of Christ” - Ephesians Ch. 4 : 13. The hymn (2) "Take my life and let it be” addresses a lot of these rooms - mind, body, and soul. It expresses the heart of someone who allows the Spirit of God, and the influence of Jesus to pervade their whole being. There may be parts of us which we shut off to the influence of the Spirit, even as we can stop a visitor from entering various rooms of our house. In these areas, we are not going to grow to the level of Christian wholeness to which we could.
- a growing plant or a tree. Our history goes back into the various root systems of our family tree. While all of these analogies refer to a dynamic movement of growth, and progression in a chronological perspective, the analogy of the plant or tree is probably the most helpful. It provides a cross sectional perspective as well as a chronological one. Cut open the plant and have a look inside. The person, like the tree, can be seen at any one point of time as functionally being made of a series of cross sectional concentric circles.
The major structural framework or "picture" used in this book, to understand the various aspects relating to a person (from problems, to causes, to interventions) is “the circles”..
So, how many circles do we have? 1,2,3,4,5?
We are made of five circles.
We are made up of separate parts. It is important to see that this is a very artificial way of categorising the person. Thus the
- concentric circular lines or boundaries are really very porous and blurred within the person and there are multiple links from one circle to another.
- parts of us are in fact often a composite of a number of aspects of various compartments.
Nevertheless, in order to have an integrated view of the person, it is important at times to dissect and separate out the functions in order to categorise them clearly. Theologians do this with the scriptures, as do horticulturists, when they classify various flowers. Doctors learn about various separate systems which allows them to see the whole more clearly.
We are one! So although there are five inter related discs or circles, in fact we are one. Some people say we are three - body, mind and Spirit (the tripartite view). Others say we are two - with body and Spirit (bipartite). Whatever view we have, it is important to include all the aspects of us. A real danger of the bipartite view is it tends to eradicate or annihilate the psychological or the mind - which has been created by God. We are a unity. And our unity is made of various parts. All the parts connect into each other and overlap with each other.
The Bible does not categorise the individual in two and a certain number of watertight compartments. However, it does mention all of these aspects of the person. You may well have a different view of the details of where one part begins and another part ends. Explore and use your view. The approach presented here, is a practical and integrated view of the person, which helps to understand the various composite parts.
The circles are 3 dimensional!
The circles have three dimensions of growth.
Cross sectionally, the circles interact with each other. They are interactive and affect each other. They are alive and dynamic. They are not static or dead. They are ever changing and fluid. Like the central nervous system goes into the peripheral nervous system, and into every part of our body, so as it were the spirit pervades our soul and our soul, has a lot to do with our mind, and then effects our body.
Chronologically, people like a tree grow. The roots move into the shoots.
There is a third dimension of change and growth. The circles do not only move and interact crossectionally and grow over time (chronologically) but also they move in a third dimension, within the square and the four quadrants. For example, our people have not only moved on chronologically over the last few years throughout the whole crosssection of all of their circles, but they are also are now functioning at a higher and more functional level than they were, a few years ago. They are also living at a different spiritual level now than where they were before. In all of our areas we can be functioning in the flesh (self-centred) or in the Spirit (God-centred) . Any aspect of us can be at various levels of Christian wholeness.