Sunday, October 14, 2007

Is there a sacred/secular divide?

The sacred/secular divide that we hear about so often is a thing that exists only as a result of sin. In a world without sin, whether we think of Eden or of the world to come, everything is filled with the glory of God, and there is no "secular." The earth is holy. Again, when Christ was in the world bodily, the kingdom of heaven was breaking in and the divide between the sacred and secular was breaking down. Sin and disease and hard-heartedness struggled for existence in the face of God's presence.

One call we Christians have in this world is to carry God's presence with us wherever we go, not as a hidden presence but as a redeeming presence. We know what God's presence does because we saw it in Christ: welcoming sinners and seeking out the outcasts, binding up the brokenhearted, comforting the afflicted but troubling the self-righteous and the complacent. God's presence welcomes the stranger, it creates brothers and sisters for us all, and it shows us a face by which we will know we are home. By love it creates a place where people gather for the hope that someone there will hear them, someone there will know them, someone there will call them by name and treasure them.

The sacred/secular divide breaks down whenever we dare to really know another person.

7 comments:

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Beautifully said.

Anastasia

Chris said...

Yesterday I taught an adult Sunday School class on "Faith in Daily Life," as part of a 7 week series on Lutheranism. I challenged the class to see the whole world as blessed, the whole world as "the locus of God's activity" (to borrow a line from Michael Bennethum's excellent little book, Listen! God is Calling! Luther speaks of vocation, faith and work.) Too often we are want to say that government or industry or ordinary daily tasks or our daily commerce or our daily civic life are not spiritual or holy, and thus we try to populate our lives with holy things - prayer, witnessing, Christian emblems on our cars - as a remedy to an otherwise unholy existence.

I challenged them to refuse to accept the sacred/secular divide, but perhaps from a different perspective than you're writing about. In classic Two Kingdoms fashion, I challenged them to appreciate that their daily work is pleasing to God and is a proper place for them to exercise their faith. On the outside it still might look like "secular" work, but it is indeed holy and blessed in the eyes of God.

OK, now I risk writing too much in a comment box. Perhaps my own blogpost on the topic is in order in the coming days . . .

Weekend Fisher said...

<< we try to populate our lives with holy things - prayer, witnessing, Christian emblems on our cars - as a remedy to an otherwise unholy existence. >>

Ooh, you've put your finger on a thought that's been lurking in the shadows of my mind. Thank you.

P.S. an after-thought said...

I think that this has been an important part of my growth as a Christian. It is a blessing and a challenge to see the spiritual in the every day events and things. This is something that preachers could remember to help people learn to do.
It is somewhat different than the trend in some traditions to say "God did this" or "Praise God" in many situations of daily life, although I think that is coming at the same idea from another viewpoint.

We had a pastor at one time whose children's sermons were always impromptu, based on some item that the children would bring to church to "stump the pastor." But he was never stumped. He could take an item and find a simple spiritual lesson in it.

Having this "view" of the world around us can give us a lift every day.

e-Mom said...

I like your opening and closing lines. Very well said.

The sacred/secular divide that we hear about so often is a thing that exists only as a result of sin.

The sacred/secular divide breaks down whenever we dare to really know another person.

Blessings, e-Mom

Drew said...

I think this also applies to how we view the relationship between the sacred and grotesque. The cross was grotesque and then turned into a sublime revelation of perfect beauty. the death of Christ is the love of Christ when the infinite being of God and the limited conditions of humanity meet. How often do we forget our own limitations and therefore cover the dangerous ambiguity of God's infinite presence. God must be found in the grotesque, for that is what Christ came to redeem.

Weekend Fisher said...

Drew - Now I'm curious. Have you read MMAdams' "Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God"?