To round out our series of On a Path Together, I’d like to explore one final, but huge, concept — that God is the God of the world.
Of course everyone believes this in theory, but the way we as the Church have acted for far too long now is that God is simply the God of our faith. The God of our church. The God of our beliefs, and our kind of people.
In betraying those beliefs and taking them to their logical conclusions, we’ve managed to separate ourselves from the culture, society, and world around us in order to strengthen our claim on our God – as discussed in part two of this series. And in so doing, the Church has caused an interesting byproduct – the division of this world into sacred parts and secular parts.
And that byproduct has been pressed so long it’s probably ingrained deeply in you now: these activities over here I do for God, these over here are just boring secular stuff. We listen to Christian music and secular music, read Christian books and secular books, watch Christian movies and secular movies, have Christian friends and non-Christian friends. It just seems like life.
But it’s contrary to what God’s mission is, and the reason Jesus came. Understanding God’s heart means understanding that he is restoring all of creation. Jesus came to sanctify the whole of our lives – not just the “religious” parts of them. And God is bigger than we can ever imagine – big enough to be God over, and working in, all of the world, not just the parts that we’ve labeled as being “holy”.
This means that the whole of your life is holy and matters deeply to God. What you do at your job is just as important and worshipful to God as what you do at a church service on Sunday mornings. How you treat your waiter or barber or coworker means just as much to God as whether or not you read your Bible this morning. God is just as present at places like school board meetings and football games as he is when we sing songs to him.
It means that there isn’t “Christian” and “secular” music as much as there is just “good” and “bad” music. There’s music that is considered secular that is very much good music and contains elements of truth and, I know it’s hard to believe, but there is “Christian” music out there that is downright awful.
In fact, the church has acted for centuries now like we have the cornerstone on truth — that truth doesn’t exist outside of our beliefs or institutions or holy book. But that’s simply not the case. While everything in the Bible is certainly truth, it doesn’t mean that is the only truth or the full extent of truth. And if that sounds blasphemous to your ears (or eyes) that have been trained to repeat and believe “sola scriptura”, consider this: at least three times in Scripture Paul quoted pagan poets and philosophers and affirmed that they did, in fact, understand a bit of Truth (Acts 17, Titus 1, 1 Corinthians 6 & 10). If God is Truth (capital T) and is bigger than our imaginations could ever contain, then why is it so hard to believe that the Truth which is also that huge could exist outside of our belief system?
We’ve got to stop dividing the world into two distinct portions – the sacred and the secular – and start seeing it through Jesus’ eyes. He’s the one who taught us, after all, that we ought to live “in the world” – a world that collectively fell under the Curse and is collectively groaning to be restored. And we are friends with a God who is God of, and at work in, that entire world – not just certain parts of it.