Congruence. Basically the word means “in harmony” or that “the outside matches the inside.” A life of congruence is one lived where your words and actions truck with the things you believe in your head. This is not an easy way to live by any means. But the alternative is living a life that’s divided against itself; in other words, a lie. So the effort is worth it.
It is entirely possible that you cannot recall ever hearing the word congruence. But there was a phrase people used to use to describe the same thing: practice what you preach. Does that one ring a bell? People who don’t practice what they preach are called “hypocrites,” which is another way of saying a pretender or an actor (and not in a positive sense). Do your words and actions match up with the thoughts that roll around inside your head? Or do you find yourself playing a role, saying or doing things that run cross-grain to what you think you believe?
The preface to As Kingfishers Catch Fire, says: “The Christian life is the lifelong practice of attending to the details of congruence – congruence between ends and means, congruence between what we do and the way we do it, congruence between what is written in Scripture and our living out what is written, congruence between preaching and living, congruence between the sermon and what is lived in both preacher and congregation, the congruence of the Word made flesh in Jesus with what is lived in our flesh.”
The opposite of congruence is some variation on the theme of compartmentalization that probably looks like “I’ve got my Christian life over here, my social life over there, my family life off over there, and my work life is back there.” Yes, that’s a house divided against itself. A house that in time will not stand.
No dissonance between word and spirit, no pretense.