Secular Things

There is no secular part of our lives. There are no separate compartments in which we should categorize what is religious and what is not. And yet we do. We label some music as “Christian” and everything else as “secular.” So, are we saying that “secular” music cannot have a “Christian” message? 🤔 Of course, it can! Consider the song “Forgiveness” (the greatest song of all time!) by The Eagles (the greatest band of all time!). Here are a few of the lyrics.

The more I know, the less I understand.

All the things I thought I knew I’m learning again

 I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter.

But my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter.

But I think it’s about forgiveness, forgiveness.

Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore.*

Wow. I’m tempted to print the whole song, but its message is clear in that chorus.  Now, is Don Henley (singer/songwriter) a Christian? Maybe. But even if he is not, the song speaks of godly things and inspires me.

Another common “secular” category is with books. But cannot a “secular” book have a “Christian” message? 🤔 Of course, it can! Consider the book A Tale of Two Cities (the greatest book of all time!) by Charles Dickens (the greatest author of all time!). The story is about a man of ill repute who sacrifices his life in order to save a man who loved the woman he loved. Wow. Although that summary is a bit obtuse, I don’t want to be too clear in case some people have not read it (which everyone should!). Now, is Charles Dickens a Christian? Perhaps. But even if he is not, the book speaks of godly things and inspires me.

But I digress. The scripture reference today begins with 2 Peter 1:3. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.”1  Meaning, God is involved in our lives and our lives are meant to be godly. Peter mentioned it in his first letter: “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”2  So, to sum up: songs can be holy (even if they are performed by unholy people), books can be holy (even if they are written by unholy writers), and people can be holy (even if the people are you and I!).

Hmm. 🤔 I think this is where we get stuck. How can you and I “be holy”? Peter explains: God promises that we “may become partakers in the divine nature.”3  That is—as Jesus lives in us, we will become more like him, taking on his holy, his “divine nature.” But it’s not magical or mystical and certainly not automatic. It takes work. That’s why Peter implores us to “make every effort”4  to become more like Jesus.

Which brings us to the main point. We have everything we need to do this, for “his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness.”1  (Have I said this already? 😁)  So, how do we begin? What do we do? Peter gives us a great list of qualities to pursue, qualities that Jesus possessed. He writes, “make every effort to supplement your faith with . . . .”4  and I must stop there in order not to miss a very important point. Faith is not one of the qualities to pursue. Wait! What? 😦 Yeah, faith is what we bring to God. God does not give us faith. He gives us salvation and forgiveness and grace and mercy and love and a whole lot of other things . . . but not faith. Hmm. 🧐

Over and over again Jesus confirms this. He said, your faith has made you well.”5  “According to your faith be it done to you.”6  “O you of little faith.”7  “O woman, great is your faith!”8  “Have you still no faith?” 9 And the list goes on. Faith is absolutely essential, “for without faith it is impossible to please him.”10  but we are responsible for having it. We begin our journey in Christ with faith—faith that God loves us and forgives us of our sin and sent Jesus to die for us in order that we would live with him forever. What Peter is imploring us to do is to add to our faith, to grow our faith, to work on our faith, to practice it. 🤨

But most people don’t. 😯 They have faith but do not tend to it. They separate their faith from the rest of their lives. They categorize that part of their lives to the “Christian” thing that they do. Perhaps they go to church or own (and maybe even read!) their Bible. But because they have compartmentalized their faith, it does not seep over into the “secular” categories. And here’s where I must repeat: If we are people of faith, there is no “secular” part to our lives! God is in us wherever we go. And we find God in many things, even things that appear to be ungodly. Everything in our lives is “Christian” because we are Christians! So, this is a good time to take inventory. Do our lives—every part of our lives—appear to be “Christian” to others (who love to compartmentalize and categorize the parts of their lives)? Because either we are Christian . . . or we are not. There is no “secular” part.

12 Peter 1:3    21 Peter 1:16   32 Peter 1:4    42 Peter 1:5   5Matthew 9:22    6Matthew 9:29    7Matthew 14:31    8Matthew 15:28   9Mark 4:40   10Hebrews 11:6   *Songfacts, Accessed 31 Dec. 2023.  

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