Sep­a­rat­ing the sa­cred and the sec­u­lar in life

The Covington News - - Religion -

“For I am your ser­vant; there­fore give me com­mon sense to ap­ply your rules to ev­ery­thing I do” (Psalm 119:125, The Liv­ing Bi­ble).

There is in Chris­ten­dom to­day an ap­palling ten­dency to sep­a­rate the sa­cred from the sec­u­lar. What I mean by that is there seems to be a break­down of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween what we pro­fess to be­lieve and how we live.

Years ago there was a pop­u­lar Chris­tian song en­ti­tled “Ev­i­dence.” The ba­sic thought in that song was ex­pressed in th­ese words, “If you were ar­rested for be­ing a Chris­tian, would there be enough ev­i­dence to con­vict you?”

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Barna poll the vast ma­jor­ity of pro­fessed be­liev­ers would have to an­swer that ques­tion “No.” That is not my opin­ion; it is the find­ing of both the Barna poll and Prison Fel­low­ship which re­port that a mere 4 per­cent of West­ern Chris­tians to­day pos­sess a Chris­tian world view. What does that mean? Put sim­ply, 96 per­cent of pro­fessed Chris­tians do not ap­ply in any way shape or form Bib­li­cal truth to their lives in any prac­ti­cal way.

We have in our gen­er­a­tion, a gen­eral dis­con­nect be­tween many peo­ple’s faith and life. The re­sult of this dis­con­nect in the lives of in­di­vid­ual be­liev­ers is that the church has be­come dis­con­nected from so­ci­ety. Those out­side the church feel that the church is ir­rel­e­vant. Why? Be­cause what we say is gen­er­ally not sup­ported by how we act.

This dis­par­ity in the church is caused by the 96 per­cent of mem­bers who give lip ser­vice to the Lord of the church but who never bridge the gap from pol­icy to prac­tice. They see church as their spir­i­tual duty, but what they hear and do on Sun­day morn­ing stays within the brick and mor­tar struc­ture of the church. Their gen­eral at­ti­tude seems to be (to play off the theme of Las Ve­gas) “what hap­pens in church stays in church.”

Not only doesn’t this 96% per­cent ap­ply God’s truth in any prac­ti­cal way in their lives ,they re­ally have no de­sire to ap­ply it to their daily lives. For them Chris­tian­ity is viewed as a hedge against the chance that there might re­ally be an eter­nity; that there might re­ally be a heaven and a hell. This 96 per­cent treat their faith like the spare tire in the trunks of their cars: they know it is there for an emer­gency, but they hope they will never have to use it.

Look again at Psalm 119:125, “for I am your ser­vant; there­fore give me com­mon sense to ap­ply your rules to ev­ery­thing I do.” Here’s what I know for cer­tain: God’s rules are for our good. The Bi­ble says, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a fu­ture and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, The Liv­ing Bi­ble).

Be­ing a typ­i­cal male, when I get some new elec­tronic de­vice, my ten­dency is to get only what I need to get from the man­ual so I can get started us­ing the de­vice. Some­times that prac­tice has re­sulted in my ru­in­ing the de­vice. You’d think I would learn from that ex­pe­ri­ence, but I per­sist in my im­pa­tient be­hav­ior when it comes to such de­vices. Most of the time I don’t ruin the de­vice, but I will say that I greatly un­der-use each de­vice be­cause I never take time to dis­cover its full po­ten­tial, set­tling in­stead for the ba­sic func­tions I need.

I think we have a sim­i­lar approach when it comes to God’s Word. We ei­ther ne­glect the in­struc­tions all to­gether or we sec­ond guess him, or we may try to bend his rules to suit our own de­sires. When all is said and done, his rules will stand and we will even­tu­ally dis­cover the painful re­al­ity that comes from break­ing them. Cer­tainly we suf­fer the mal­ady of never get­ting the full ben­e­fit of liv­ing our lives ac­cord­ing to God’s in­struc­tions.

Rather then ask­ing, “God how can I skate by” we should be pray­ing, “God give me the wis­dom, in­sight, de­sire and faith I need to ap­ply your word ev­ery day to my ev­ery day life.”

John Pear­rell


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