So, you have a calling. There’s someone God made you to be. Something God made you to do. All you have to do is dig it out from under the rubble of your fear and insecurity and upbringing and culture and consciousness. It’s there. Waiting to be found.
But I know what some of you are thinking, Really? I know that God calls people to church stuff, but I’m an IT specialist for a cell-phone company — how is that a calling from God?
To get to a robust, deep, rich, charged theology of work, and for that matter, rest, we have to cross the chasm that is the sacred/secular divide.
And I forewarn you; it is a deep, wide, ominous chasm. So put your boots on…
The sacred/secular divide is this erroneous idea that some things are sacred or spiritual, and they matter to God; but other things are secular or physical, and by implication, they don’t matter to God, at least, not all that much.
The problem with this widespread, ubiquitous, domineering, destructive way of thinking is that, well, by this definition, most of life is secular.
The sacred stuff is a dinky slice of the pie — going to church, praying, reading the Scriptures, evangelism. What is that, 5% of our lives? Max? If you’re really “spiritual”?
Most of life — the other 95% — is spent grocery shopping or walking the dog or cutting your toenails or reading at the park or doing yoga with your wife or eating a burrito and then feeling bloated afterward — but less so if you just finished doing yoga.
This is the stuff of everyday life.
And so most of us feel a little bit frustrated because we think that what we do every day — our work and our rest — how we play and unwind and enjoy God’s world — is meaningless and pointless and ephemeral and doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of heaven and hell and eternal life because it’s not sacred.
So much of life is just mundane. There’s nothing glamorous about it. We don’t feel like we’re changing the world; we’re changing diapers or answering emails or tweaking an Excel spreadsheet. So we feel frustrated, or maybe even empty and aimless, because every night as we lie in bed, we think, Does any of this matter?
Or we feel a twinge of guilt because even though our job as an IT specialist isn’t sacred, we really enjoy it and are proud of what we do. And every time we come home from work and drink a glass of really good wine or watch a great film or eat a delicious meal, we feel this nagging sense of shame because we enjoy it so much — it feels good and right and earthy and human — but it’s not “spiritual.”
This entire paradigm of the sacred and the so-called secular is seriously out of whack. And not only is it untrue, but it’s also dangerous. Let me make my point…
To start off, let’s talk about the word spiritual. It’s one of those words we use all the time, but as a wise Spaniard with a sweet mustache once said, “I don’t think it means what you think it means.” (That was my mandatory Princess Bride quote.)
Did you know there’s no word for spiritual in the Hebrew language? Hebrew is the language of the first three quarters of the Bible — what we call the Old Testament. Look up the word spiritual in Genesis to Malachi — the Bible used by Jesus. It’s not there. Why? Because in a Hebrew worldview, all of life is spiritual.
Even when you get to the New Testament, the word spiritual is really only used by Paul. In his writings it means “animated by the Holy Spirit.” And for Paul, every facet of our life should be spiritual.
1. I think if you had asked Jesus about His spiritual life, He would have looked at you very confused. My guess is He would have asked, What do you mean by My spiritual life? You mean My life? All of My life is spiritual.
Jesus didn’t buy into sacred/secular thinking. Not one bit. To Him, the God He called Father is as close as the air up against our skin. To Him, life is a seamless, integrated, holistic experience where the sacred is all around us. And for Jesus and His way, God wants to be involved in every square inch of our lives.
2. Because everything is spiritual. Everything matters to God.
The word pnuematikos, or “spiritual,” does show up in the New Testament, mostly in the writings of Paul. But it’s not used how most of us use it. Most people think spiritual means esoteric, immaterial, otherworldly, enigmatic or deep, mystic experiences with God. But in Paul’s theology it means “animated by the Spirit of God.” It’s from the root word pneuma, where we get the word pneumatic. It’s this driving, empowering presence in us to do what we’re called to do — on Earth. It has nothing to do with material/immaterial. That’s why in 1 Corinthians 2 he puts all humans into two categories. The “spiritual” are all followers of Jesus who have His Spirit; everybody else is not spiritual. Fascinating.
* This language comes from the Everything Is Spiritual tour DVD by Rob Bell (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007).
Adapated from Garden City: Work, Rest, And The Art Of Being Human by John Mark Comer, copyright John Mark Comer, published by Zondervan.
* * *
Have you thought of your life as separated into spiritual — going to church, reading your Bible, praying — and secular — working, playing, exercising, vacationing? What changes in your mind if you consider all of it spiritual activity? Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear from you about offering every area of your life to God who wants to be involved! ~ Devotionals Daily