This post originally appeared on Theology Rocks
It is exegetically necessary to build a divide between Christianity and culture (i.e. the world, in a negative connotation). Jesus said the world will hate believers (John 15:18f.) We also know Christians are to be holy as God is holy (1 Pet. 1:16). The idea of holy is not merely doing the right thing, but it carried the idea of being separate from the world. Sadly, all these things take a negative turn when brought within Christian culture alone.
THERE IS NO SECULAR
You see, people (especially in Western Christendom) have come to believe that they can participate in both secular activities and in sacred activities. Just hear the typical line, “Don’t lie, man, you’re in church!” This could be pictorially depicted as follows:
Sin is often hard to detect when we are so immersed in it. Our culture drinks down sin like it were crystal clean water in the middle of a hot, dry desert. As Paul Washer commonly explains, Christians wearing what they consider conservative bathing suits to the beach would have been arrested sixty years ago for wearing it! Christians gauging their holiness standards by the world ’round them will fall short of what Christ demands.
We have also created unnecessary categories that leads to our K.O. in the battle with culture: sacred and secular. “Of the world” or “that which is passing” is a simple etymological definition of the term secular. Somehow we have decided it’s okay for a Christian to participate in secular things and enjoy them, whereas the Bible says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). Well that’s pretty straightforward. So, does that mean I can’t love television? I can’t love parties? I can’t love… being a mechanic? Oh my! There are so many Christians out there that love lots of secular things! They must not have the love of the Father. We should create a list of EVERYTHING that is secular or sacred so we know what we can do! Just kidding, I’m not a legalist. It’s actually pretty black and white:
Christians have a tendency to see reading the Bible as a sacred activity. Therefore if I read the Bible I am doing a good thing because I am doing a sacred activity. That’s not always the case. We can read the Bible to honor God or read the Bible to dishonor God (reading with the wrong attitude, for instance). Likewise, Christians see going to the movies as a secular activity. So it can’t be sin (well, unless it’s rated R or something…) no matter what because this is a secular thing, it doesn’t involve God. There is no secular! Everything is done either to honor and glorify God or to bring glory to something other than God (idolatry). The Bible commands, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).
In the fight against culture we don’t have to seclude to a monastery to become successfully holy. We just need to ask one simple question for every moral decision: does this honor God? This is the whole point of life! As the teacher in Ecclesiastes tried everything under the sun, nothing worked! But the whole point of life is found gloriously at the end of the book, “ The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” Ecc. 12:13.
We don’t need to put on our facade an attend the weekly masquerade in pews just because “it’s my duty to go to church.” We simply ask, “Will it honor God if I attend this gathering of believers?” (And, if it’s a biblical gathering, the answer is yes, of course). We don’t need to pile up our T.V.’s in the center of town and burn them like the books of Ephesus. We simply ask the question, “Will I honor God by watching this show?” (Sadly, most of the time it’s no…). This is the proper balance. In the fight with culture, we should not run and cower so they never hear a word of Jesus. But, neither should we stand there and ask Culture to punch us in the face with some more sin (i.e. “I can participate in secular ’cause I’m not a church”). We must stand firm on the foundation of Christ and fight properly to honor God.