When I was with YWAM, we were often taught to believe that there’s no such thing as “secular” and “sacred”. I’ve come to realize that this is a dangerous approach of missions; it is working to make the cost of discipleship easy. At the time I was easily fooled and was happy to hear the deluding “good” news (because I thought I can now enjoy the worldliness as well as be a Christian!). It’s necessary to define these terms in order to understand the falsehood. These definitions are taken from dictionary.com:
· of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred; temporal
· not pertaining to or connected with religion (opposed to sacred)
· (of education, a school, etc.) concerned with nonreligious subjects.
· not within the control of the Church
· Not concerned with religion or religious matters. Secular is the opposite of sacred.
Synonyms: earthly, worldly, profane, materialistic, carnal, unspiritual, sensual
· devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated.
· entitled to veneration or religious respect by association with divinity or divine things; holy.
· pertaining to or connected with religion (opposed to secular or profane)
Synonyms: divine, godly, spiritual, consecrated, glorified, righteous, faithful
Sacred and secular are distinctively contradictory! It is absurd to try to make them one. Yet this is what the missions and churches are doing today, esp. with the youth; amalgamating righteousness with unrighteousness; the spirit and the flesh, the Word with the world, Christ with Satan! Yet God in His mercy and grace has not consumed us!
A brief look at recent history will help see things in perspective. Prior to the Counter Culture Movement of the 1960s, there was a definite dichotomy between religion and society. Good was seen as God’s and evil the devil’s. The Church had the voice, it had authority. People were able to identify which side they belonged to depending on their worldview and lifestyle. Although the Roman Catholic religion had strongly maintained various false rituals and religiosity within the Church, the Puritans migrated to the US from England between 1600s-1700s and were able to start a simple yet clear-cut Christianity based solely on the Bible, and that alone was their guide to everyday life. http://www.spiritus-temporis.com/puritan/beliefs.html
With the coming of the rebellious age of the 1960s, the Church lost its ground. This was the age secularism emerged and sacredness (holiness) was desperately and vigorously pushed under the rug by the youth. The older generations of that time sensed the ungodliness of the abase culture that had forcefully invaded the next generation! As the secular mentality was magnified in the face of the young minds through music, movies, posters etc, the purity of God began to thin out. There grew a chasm between the older generation and the new; and the sacred-secular divide had a major role to play in this chasm. This divide remained for many years to come, until Christians began to question their identity as Christians. They loved secularism, yet they couldn’t completely become secularists. Hence some brilliant mind came up with the idea of uniting the sacred with the secular!
(I would, however, like to make some things clear: I am not religious; I do not believe in rituals and religious ceremonies like the RC religion imposes. The RC had gone too far in imposing rituals and religiosity. This created a wrong sense of piety and fear in people. The true Church is not about religiosity and rituals but rather spirituality and discernment. The term ‘secular’ refers to the other extreme of the spectrum from the religiosity, which is carnality/worldly (see definition). Secularism is disconnection from God; and being spiritual does not mean religious.)
Uniting these two opposites is a deceiving; uniting of these has caused confusion among Christians, many are questioning their salvation. Why is this? Because they don’t see the difference between Christianity and secularism. Why not? Because the two opposites are made to look-alike. How crafty! Can the light look like darkness? Can hot be made to feel cold? Would God exchange His glory for that of the world? Anyone with the right spirit would think not! However, Christian youth these days are taught that they can be carnal and yet be saved; all they need to do is say a simple prayer “asking” Jesus into their heart (which isn’t a Biblical prayer to begin with) and then give a ‘Christian’ look to the things of the world for conscience’s sake. These kids aren’t taught to repent, to change their ways and live the tough yet true life of the Gospel. The result of this seeker-friendly gospel is devastating: confusion, doubts, lack of assurance regarding salvation, the lack of the knowledge of God; they do not know His holiness, His fear, His wrath, His judgment, His love! Yes Jesus died for our sins so that we may have eternal life, but we have a part in this covenant too: the part of obeying and walking in His way, setting ourselves apart from the ways of the heathen, not to become like them because they’re “fun”. Such fun comes with a heavy price, eternal rejection! None is without excuse.
We are in this world, but not of it; therefore we’re not to conform to what it offers. The power behind this world is the Devil’s, and his sole purpose is to steal kill and destroy (John 10:10); the attractiveness of the world is his bait. In the Old Testament, the Lord had set apart the nation of Israel as His own; establishing with them His covenant. He wanted Israel to be a witness to the other nations whose god was not the Lord. Hence He gave them laws and commandments to keep as their part of the covenant. Nonetheless, the Israelites went ‘whoring’ after the gods of the other nations, after their ways of worship, after their women etc; God’s chosen nation shamelessly mingled with the other nations. And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods (idols, things of the world), and bowed themselves unto them: they turned quickly out of the way which their fathers walked in, obeying the commandments of the LORD; but they did not so. (Judges 2:17) – Doesn’t that sound like today’s Christian culture?
…For the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God. Hos 4:12
I could go on explaining the seriousness of what Israel did in the sight of their holy God, but that would be another topic altogether. However my point is this: every time Israel turned away from the Lord, He would bring judgment upon them by sending pagan nations viz. Midian, Assyria, Aram, Egypt etc to rule over them until they realized their mistake, called on the Lord and repented. The most serious of all the judgments was the Babylonian exile (yes that is the extent of God’s love!). That is how serious He takes covenants.
You will defend yourself by saying this is the New Covenant, the period of grace, the Old has passed away and so the OT doesn’t apply to us, right? Well, does God change? Does He morph Himself according to the day and age of the people? Does He conform to the ways of people? Has the almighty, fierce, jealous God now turned into a cuddly, full of love, soft Santa Claus?!? Agreed, this is the grace period, but He has not cancelled His wrath and judgment, He has delayed it – this is grace! And those who walk in His way alone has He forgiven. Most of the New Testament is about living a godly, holy life (yes, I’m saying this with the context and culture of that era in mind, though that culture was no different to ours; this generation is as heathen as they were then!).
Now coming back to the issue of fusing together the sacred-secular worldview, it is undoubtedly clear that we are called to live among the secular, but not become a secularist with a touch of Christianity. Know your Bible; know what the Lord expects of you. A t-shirt with a Scripture verse will not work, neither a sexy attire, good works, a Christian tattoo, Christian metal/rock, Christian dread locks, Christian Afro etc. Yes, God looks at the heart, but how else are we going to physically set ourselves aside from the world, what is it that people find different about us by the way we look? Or do we look exactly the same as the heathen, except we own Christian stuff?
Dear saint, do not be fooled by this fusion of sacred and secular. It’s a certain trap to swallow you pure faith. Be certain that you belong to one side only. You cannot worship God with one foot in carnal lifestyle and the other in spirituality. Please repent of your worldly ways and get back on the narrow path. It’s not easy but that’s where the truth is. Begin to live in the fear of the Lord, in obedience to Him alone.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates. Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 2 Cor 13:5-8
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1Thes 5:21,22 People can tell a lot about a person by the way they look and carry themselves! Let us not give a worldly impression of ourselves.