Secular vs. Sacred

Historically, there has always been some form of differentiation between that which is sacred and that which is secular. The terms may have changed over time and contexts, but the idea is similar: there is the world which we can experience with our senses and then there is some sort of other world which is often referred to as the spiritual realm.

Secularism is simply defined as the philosophy that there is nothing beyond what we can experience with our senses. Therefore, all experiences that we may attribute to things we feel in our spirit, such as love, joy, bliss, ecstasy, etc. are reduced to mere physiological experiences triggered by chemical reactions in our bodies that produce sensations.

Os Guinness writes that, “secularization is the process through which the decisive influence of religious ideas and institutions has been neutralized… making religious ideas less meaningful and religious institutions more marginal.” (The Call, 2003: 148)

A Warning About Secular vs. Sacred

The danger among people of faith is the tendency to separate sacred work from secular work. The truth is, the only secular work is that which seeks to neutralize the sacred, or work that is done with no regard for the existence of a Creator and the realm of the kingdom of God.

This is why Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord.” When we fall into the trap of secular vs. sacred work, we forget that even the most mundane and ordinary work is a spiritual act of worship. This has been a constant struggle throughout the history of the church, ultimately causing devastating abuses of power and a failure to live out the calling of Jesus to humble ourselves as servants of one another.

How Calling Counters Secularism

Os Guinness presents three ways that the call of Jesus Christ prevents sliding into the secularism trap (The Call, 2003: 149-151):

  1. Jesus calls us to a kingdom and a life that is made substantially different because of their supernatural dimensions. The realm of the spiritual is an entirely different world with different possibilities.
  2. Jesus shows us that real victory is won in the battlefield of prayer. We do not battle against humans, as though they are our enemy. Rather, we enter the battlefield of the spiritual with Jesus as our champion.
  3. Jesus calls us to specific spiritual disciplines that are vital for sustaining calling itself. Not only that, but Jesus actually equips us so that we will rise above the weakness of the flesh.

It is all too easy to believe the lie that existence is limited to what we can touch, see, hear, smell and taste. And, the only way to truly experience a realm beyond these five senses is to experience the calling of Jesus.

Cover photo by JF Martin on Unsplash

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