The Categorized Life, Secular or Sacred?

I’ll say this up front, I don’t like starting conversations that result in conflict or unrest. Sometimes that means I stay silent about things I’m studying or considering.  Even writing that sounds so very cowardly.  Maybe there is a “next step” in my learning in how to be more vulnerable. But this is one of those times I feel compelled to lay it out there even though I  may be misunderstood, or may be in the process of figuring it out.

Here goes…I am recognizing that life does not consist of compartments labeled “secular” and “sacred”.  We have a tendency to think that God is more present in certain situations than others.  We deem Him present when we listen to music that carries His name (and for some even that has it’s caveats… no drums, or certain rhythmic sounds).  Anyway, of course He is present in our Bible reading and church going, right? He is present when families are in harmony and acts of loving and caring  are present. So let me play devil’s advocate and ask the obvious.  Where is God not? Is He not around when you enjoy your food maybe a little too much? When you enjoy sex? When you enjoy a nice walk at sunset? When you hear a “bad” word? When you watch a movie? When you gossip? When you…sin? What about the flesh? Aren’t we supposed to hate that part of us? Crucify it each morning, right?

I am not saying I understand this completely, but it seems we’ve let go of something important and are left standing with a sack of guilt.  In our “trying” we’ve forgotten that God made us, knows us, created FOR us.  We have limited God by what we deem righteous or virtuous, based on our own specific preferences.  I think we have it backwards.  God is.  He is not fluctuating like a vacillating  fan on a summer night. We don’t control the settings. Our most “victorious” moments or our “worst” failures are nothing but avenues to see a different side of our need and another opportunity to see an atribute of God.  Nothing, I mean nothing changes about the steadfastness of God during our “triumph” or our “failures”.  WE don’t change God’s mood with our actions. We don’t control Him. He has decided that He would delight in us. This blows my mind. No merit.  No bargains.  Just grace.

We have a tendency to equate flesh passions with sinfulness because left without God, we won’t pursue that which is good or right. But think with me.  The truth about our flesh is that we cannot experience God or love others, or do ONE single thing on this earth without our body, which is flesh, but thankfully it’s housing the important stuff.  Sure it needs to be subject to the Spirit of God, but let’s not act like it’s not important or not wonderful. Let’s not dismiss the moments that are pleasurable. They are all avenues.  Some might take the avenue and just want to pile up more for themselves, never reaching for the source of the gift.  God can handle that.  God has more patience than Job.  He’s still around after all of the wastefulness, after the indulgence.  He uses even that to draw us to Himself.

So, how does this play out in life? You will have to answer that for yourself.  As for me, I find myself more drawn to this God of grace because all of the goodness and all of the pain, and yes, even the failure is used, purposeful, meaningful, laden with forgiveness and love. I find I am not trying to convince God of something I think He may not know about me. I am drawn to this God who gives such extravagant gifts like sunsets and nature, delicious food and physical pleasure.  I find I enjoy people more, even the “weird” ones. All of the differences I imagine represent something about God that I haven’t seen before.  I am not so sure, and yet more sure all at the same time.  Again, I’m saying that I don’t see my life separated into man-made categories of sacred and secular.  I think we’re kind of scared of not labeling as if those labels help us.  They don’t. Labels don’t keep you from sin. They take God out of a lot of life. It takes a mental  discipline to invite and include God in all of it. He’s there anyway.  We might as well include Him because all of life’s “categories” have God’s fingerprints on them-all of them. They are all God marked, yet because of this physical body we live in, they are human.  They are beautiful, heavy, gritty and worn wagon wheels making deep ruts in the road that leads to God.  Always God.

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