Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Great Divide

There is a great divide in our world that is a hindrance to living a consistent Christian life. That is the division between the spiritual and the secular. The concept is that we can push God into some corner of our lives. We then proceed to live our secular life the same as we would without God. And then, on a regular basis, cross over into the spiritual area and offer respect to God. That paints a rather extreme picture, but the reality can often be much more subtle. We start out with good intentions, we avoid blatant compromises, but we drift slowly, bit by bit, into a divided life. And it is hard to put the parts back together again. Also, it does not help that there is a tendency to confuse spirituality with those things that are connected to the church organization. Those things associated with the organization are sacred time and sacred places. Everywhere else is simply mundane. Is there a way to avoid this dichotomy?

We need to start by realizing that God is at work in all of us all the time (2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13). We are told to respond with obedience to this working (Romans 12:1,2; Galatians 5:16; Colossians 2:6,7). Nowhere is this confined to a specific area of life. Rather, we are told we can do all things to the glory of God, including even the most menial of work (1 Corinthians 10:31; Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-25). Also, the church, the body of Christ, is the people (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:4,5; Colossians 2:19). Now those people are required to be organized (1 Corinthians 14:40; Hebrews 12:17; 1 Peter 5:1-4). But the organization is an expression of the people; it is not the people who are made acceptable by being part of the organization.

But bringing Christian teaching into the rest of life is the real test. It is easy playing the Christian in an entirely  Christian  context. It is hard being a Christian out in the world. It is hard being pure without being self-righteous and loving without compromising principles. That is where the rubber meets the road. I have said that church is the practice session for the game of life. It is where we are encouraged and instructed to face the rest of life (Hebrews 10:24,25; Colossians 1:28,29; Ephesians 4:11-16). I am convinced that we very much need that practice session. But it is the preparation for the real event. We may do well in practice and fail when the pressure is really on. And if we see the practice session as the main event, we set ourselves up for that.

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