Anthony W. Brooks
For so much of my Christian walk I saw things one way. It was the way of a distinction that arose into my mind. We sometimes use this distinction in our social categories, but the two categories I used were that of sacred and secular.
I am currently reading Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. These two categories are used often in the book. When Orual walks into the house of Ungit or when the priest of Ungit comes and visits the palace she recognizes the smell of holiness that comes with all things sacred. And so this is how I saw the church. When I walked in it felt holy and sacred, there is something to be revered there. But when I walked into my house, school, or later work I felt nothing holy there at all, just life and labor. This eventually creeped into how I thought about God. Somehow he was in the church much like the faceless blob of stone that was supposed to be Ungit and how it was set on her pedestal in the temple.
Thinking With New Categories
Eventually we need to rethink our categories by which we see the world. Home, school, and work need to be seen through the light of scripture the same way the church does. There are mandates for those places as well as for the Church. When we only see God in the assembly and not in the home or school we are perjuring ourselves. We are believing the whole counsel of God is right and good but in the home, job, or school we will have none of it. How often have we lifted our voices to God for help from him in a certain situation and it goes our way only for us to forget about him the next hour? It has certainly happened in my life and I’m sure in yours. This is the undoubtable double standard that we have walked right into.
There is nothing merely secular in our world. All realms of life have been ordained by God for our doing. The home, the government, the job, the church, all of it is God ordained and there are standards that we are to live by with optimism for the future and a reverence for the God who ordained our behaviors in them. There is a level of secularism that is there, surely not every person in your workplace is a Christian, but this just makes the workplace a field ripe for harvest. We have to see things this way if we are to be consistent with our foundational presuppositions. Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:11 “In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…”. Are we then to ignore this clear statement that God has all things under his hand?
So I say let us work with more divine categories than the simple sacred and secular. Sure these are useful when speaking of those things under the preview of the church and state, but they are hardly useful in the life of piety. Some of us don’t see ourselves doing this, but I can assure you that you do. You and your family act one way in church and another at home. This is no simple change of behavior, it is instinctive. It is two-faced. Hypocrisy. Change your categories and you will see God’s world the way he intended.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Picture: Orual preparing for battle. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis