The Divide of Sacred & Secular
There’s been a trend in the last few decades of dividing the sacred and secular. Christians tend to separate things like music, work, or art apart from church, worship, or prayer. If it doesn’t directly involve God it isn’t sacred, but rather it’s just secular or worldly. However, what if we’ve had it wrong this whole time? What if God wants to break the divide between sacred and secular? Everything is sacred.
Oftentimes, the divide of sacred and secular tells us lies about God.
I grew up believing certain things were sacred or Godly while other things were worldly or secular. Hearing this caused me to believe lies about how I was living or what I was dreaming about. Frequently, I dismissed dreams about working as a writer or in the fashion industry because it was holy enough. It wasn’t something like being a missionary or being a Christian author. What if I wanted to work in a job that didn’t directly involve God? I almost felt guilty because I didn’t want to be a missionary or work in ministry. For a while, I thought God only cared about things like mission work or spiritual practices. I didn’t think He cared about things like exercising, art, fashion, food, or music. Those secular things were too worldly and I believed He only payed attention to worship, prayer, or church.
This is what happens when we start dividing the sacred and the secular. We start to think that God doesn’t care about everyday life. We start putting God in a box of sacred things like church attendance, taking time to worship, doing ministry in your city, and more. However, we put all the other “worldly” things in a separate box because we think they aren’t sacred.
Dividing sacred and secular distances God from our lives.
Not only does the divide between sacred and secular affect our view of God, but it also affects the way we live our lives. Every day we get up and have our coffee with a “quiet time.” This is a time we read our Bibles, pray, journal, and spend time with God. Then, we go on with our day. When we enter into our job or next task, we’ve already forgotten about the God we just spent time with. We separate Him from the rest of our life and leave Him behind as we go about our busy schedule. We go to work and get frustrated, burnt out, and overworked. We go to the mall and spend and consume and get sucked into the idea that more stuff will bring fulfillment.
On the other side of this, a lot of us think our work has to be overtly Christian. Musicians have to produce “Christian” music, entrepreneurs have to have a cross in their business logo or a Bible verse on their wall. “And that’s not all bad. Some of it’s really inspiring. But if all of us lived this way, we could end up in a world where the Church is a kind of cultural ghetto—a relic from the past, where we used to be known for stunning art and pushing the edge of science, but now we’re known for bad music and cheesy design and an odd tribal dialect that nobody else really understands.” (Relevant Magazine). There is no divide between sacred and secular in our lives.
There is no such thing as Christian music, because a melody can’t be a Christian, only a songwriter can. There’s no such thing as Christian art, because a canvas can’t be filled with the Spirit of the living God, only a painter can. // John Mark Comer
When we realize there is no divide of sacred and secular, we will live differently. We will carry God into the places we work, shop, eat, and spend time at. We will no longer live by the worlds standards, but live only by God’s standards. No longer will we separate church and everything else, but we will welcome God’s presence into every aspect of our lives.
The Bible shows us that everything is sacred.
Throughout the Old Testament, we see God breaking the divide of sacred and secular. As explore the Bible, we see that Jesus didn’t divide the sacred and spiritual. In fact, Jesus had a pretty mundane job on earth. He was a simple carpenter. We don’t know how long He was a carpenter for, but we can guess it was for multiple years. He only did ministry for the last three years of His life, yet all of His life is filled with sacredness. Jesus saw life as a seamless, integrated, holistic experience where the sacred and spiritual is all around us.
God talks about things like money, sex, work, food, hygiene, and much more throughout the Bible. Many of us would be surprised that He cares so much about all of these things. However, this reveals that God doesn’t divide the sacred from the spiritual. It’s all the same to Him. Everything is spiritual.
When we get rid of the divide between sacred and secular, we can live in the fullness of God’s presence wherever we are.
If you are a follower of Jesus, you carry His presence everywhere. Whether you are a missionary in Africa or a waitress, you are filled with His presence. You aren’t a Christian waitress or a Christian engineer or a Christian actor. “You’re a Christian—a follower of Jesus the Messiah and the Lord of the world. And you’re a dental hygienist. Or a professional football player. Or a you fill in the blank.” (Relevant Magazine)
When you go out to work or go out shopping, do it as a follower of Jesus. No more boxes of sacred and secular. Following Jesus needs to influence and shape every part of our lives. Let’s not just let God have all of us during a church service or at a Christian camp. Let’s welcome God into every aspect of our lives. Give Him access to the most mundane parts of your life. Welcome Him into your finances, romance, friendships, work, shopping, and more. Don’t leave Him back at church or in those “quiet times” in the morning. Recognize His presence fills you wherever you go and no matter what you are doing.
Are you dividing the sacred and secular?
How do you live your life? Are you choosing to only let God into spiritual practices or are you inviting Him into every area of life? God isn’t just in church or in missions. He is in every part of our lives. No matter what you do or where you go, He is with you. There is no divide of sacred and secular. Everything is sacred.