Life is divided into the secular and sacred.
Sacred refers to the separate, the holy, something dedicated to a deity or religion. Secular refers to the common, or worldly things.
How did we ever come up with that heresy?
If there is anything true about the way of Jesus, it is that he lived out his faith in “regular” life. It was not just something reserved for a special place, or a special time. After all, his disciples lived with him and traveled with him. Most of that time probably seemed like anything but something religious. They traveled the countryside on foot. They were at the mercy of others’ hospitality to have a place to sleep and food to eat. They fought among themselves. And much of the time they just didn’t get what Jesus was really talking about. It sounds pretty real to me.
Gin needs tonic, and tonic need gin. (Baptists don’t need either one!) Neither taste very good alone. Life needs Jesus, and Jesus needs to be lived out in life. It is insane to try to separate them, though, that is exactly what we have inadvertently done.
His way is not a special subculture, though we have built a Christian subculture with our Christian schools, Christian music, Christian books, Christian movies, and Christian celebrities. The goal was to expand the sacred and religious to insulate us from the secular (dangerous) culture of the real world, effectively creating our own little world. Only, the sacred is not always so sacred, especially, as it becomes big business, but the secular is sacred because God is omnipotent and omnipresent.
Jesus did not get corrupted by living in the real world; the real world got infected by Jesus. The way of Jesus only makes a difference if people leave the Christian ghetto and live real life with real people in the real world. Rather than trying to separate ourselves from the culture of the world, we need to immerse ourselves in it. As we do, we will find out that Jesus is already there.
Many Christians not only believed in living separate from the world, but also from each other. This kind of separation, called secondary separation, has been the big deal for me all along. It never made much sense.
Southern Baptists were suspicious of the even more strict fundamentalists and vice versa. They each believed the other got some important points of doctrine wrong. I was a Southern Baptist who went to an independent, fundamentalist college. Everyone looked a little cross-eyed at me. That is an indicator of the suspicion, divisions, and arrogance between two religious sects that were close cousins in the grand scheme of the family three of Christendom.
There is a long list of things that I experienced in my life that didn’t seem quite right, but I ignored them for decades. Instead, I thought there must be something wrong with me, because these beliefs and practices were such an accepted part of the status quo of the religious.
I was a part of a denomination that expected their churches not to have anything to do with churches that were not a part of their little group. I said, “enough” and discontinued our association with that deamination. Some people thought that was heresy.
Sadly, the church grew so in love with itself, that if someone walked from the outside, it wouldn’t make sense, or even seem welcoming. So, I became infatuated with the seeker church movement, and we made the uninitiated our focus as a church. Again, I did battle with people who hated this. They believed church was for Christians. Period. I guess that means screw everyone else.
Eventually, I was sort of squeezed out of the church. I got to where I no longer derived a sense of fulfillment or personal meaning from it. The Sunday experience became frustrating and a source of agitation. I couldn’t take the self-focus and the arrogance any longer.
But I didn’t stop noticing that God was at work. Actually, I noticed it more than ever. Seeing him in in so-called secular art, music, and a wide spectrum of humanity was absolutely thrilling. My God had gotten a lot bigger.