This is part six of a 7-part series on the sacred/secular divide.
By sacred we usually mean something pertaining to the church; by secular we mean something not pertaining to the church. The word secular often has a negative connotation—not just not pertaining to the church but “ungodly.” Yet, “secular” shouldn’t be used in these cases. If something is ungodly, it isn’t secular: it is evil! If someone is listening to “secular,” music they can still glorify God unless they cannot glorify Him by listening to or singing those particular words. So perhaps we should call it sacred vs. evil instead of sacred vs. secular.
In economics, the word “secular” is used to describe a long-term trend that is not reflective of mere cyclical behavior and is unaffected by short-term activities. For example, an economy experiencing “secular decline” means that it is consistently shrinking not just due to short-term factors such as swings in commodity prices or temporary tariffs, but rather due to bad policy, a dictator with a stranglehold over economic activity, or some other reason. Perhaps we should leave the word “secular” in the realm of economics and remove it from our “church words” lexicon.
The Bible certainly uses terms like “holy” and “consecrated” and “sanctified” as a “setting apart” sort of function, but not a higher function. The entire church is meant to be holy, consecrated, and sanctified. The church is the “called out ones” or the “gathering/assembly.” We are “called to be saints” (Romans 1:7) and called to be “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16) and called to “walk worthy” (Ephesians 4:1). Yet, those distinctions are not about being called to do something higher or more purposeful than any other believer; indeed, we are all called to those things. In Ephesians 4:11, we don’t get a sentiment from Paul that any of the jobs (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers) are better or higher than any of the other jobs, but we are given different roles.
From Now to the Future
All of creation—not only the land where buildings sit with crosses on top (Romans 8:21-22)—will be redeemed. Not only creation, but people, will be brought under His lordship one day (1 Corinthians 15:28, Ephesians 1:22, Philippians 2:10-11, Isaiah 2:2). In Revelation 21:5, Jesus says, “Behold, I make all things new.” He doesn’t say here that He is coming again to make only some things new. In fact, what He means by “all things” is “all things.” Everything has a broken element to it in life under the sun, and He wants to restore all of it to original condition—without a division between the sacred and the secular.
Next week, we will look at the Sacred/Secular divide in the context of our lives.
Greg is the President of OPEN USA. He used his education to work as a tentmaker in the Middle East for 8.5 years seeking to plant a church amongst a least-reached people group. Currently back in the USA with his wife and children, they aim to return to finish what the LORD used them to start.
To learn more about B4T, read Business for Transformation by Patrick Lai.