“You need to make Jesus first place in your life.”
Growing up I heard things like this a lot. What people meant by it was that as believers we need to prioritize bible reading, prayer, and other “spiritual activities” above everything else. The implication is that “everything else,” although sometimes necessary, is “worldly” and therefore not as good as the “spiritual” things.
Now if someone thinks those “everyday life things” are actually bad, then they have a significant misunderstanding about God and life in general. Paul taught the Colossians to not follow rules such as “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”, which he identified as useless traditions of men.
But I’m not writing about that kind of mindset. Most people don’t think like that nowadays. But many people do have the mindset that says that the “other things” are good, but not as good as “spiritual things.” This mindset says there is a division between the sacred and the secular, a distinction to be made between what is spiritual and what is common.
I used to have this mindset. I valued things like journaling, bible reading, prayer, worship, and fasting above other things I liked to do such as sports, hanging out with friends, reading books, and gaming. I compartmentalized my life into “spiritual” and “common” areas. At one point I was so entrenched in this way of thinking that I felt guilty for doing things like watching movies because I thought it was a pure waste of time.
A few years ago a friend shared a revelation with me that revolutionized my perspective on life. He simply told me that we were meant to encounter Jesus in everything. When we eat, talk, run, study, play, and go to the toilet. In everything and everywhere, we meet Jesus.
When I began to understand and believe this, I also started to experience it. I began to encounter God in whatever I was doing, because I knew that’s what I was made for.
Encountering God used to be something I tried to make happen through my “spiritual” activities. But it became effortless. All I did was shift my perspective. God was always with me, and I decided to stay conscious of that joyous reality. Brother Lawrence called this the “practice of the presence of God.”
The way I approached “spiritual” activities changed too. They were no longer “special” or better than the other things I did. I also quit considering them as “disciplines.” They simply became another means of hanging out with Jesus. And hanging out with Jesus was not something I had to discipline myself to do; I did it when I felt like it. The more I got to know how ridiculously good he is, the more I wanted to hang out.
The idea of the dichotomy between the “sacred” and “secular” comes from the Old Covenant, in which the Law required the Israelites to set themselves apart from other peoples in the earth by following certain rules. We are not in that Covenant, nor are we under the Law.
The false dichotomy between the sacred and profane ahas been forever abolished in Christ. Such thinking belongs to both paganism and ancient Judaism. – Frank Viola
There’s no such thing as secular and sacred. The opposite of sacred according to its real meaning is “common” or “ordinary.” And there’s no doubt about it, you are truly uncommon if the life of Jesus Christ dwells in you. Consequently your environment becomes an uncommon, sacred environment because you are there. Jesus didn’t fear what we would call the secular world. In fact he plunged himself headfirst into it. By his presence in those environments, he made sacred those things that had been considered secular. The idea that there’s a difference between sacred and secular in the life of a Christian is not true. You live and move and exist in Jesus Christ. Consequently, everything about your life is sacred. – Steve McVey
One of the greatest hindrances to the internal peace which the Christian encounters is the common habit of dividing our lives into two areas – the sacred and the secular. As these areas are conceived to exist apart from each other and to be morally and spiritually incompatible, and as we are compelled by the necessities of living to be always crossing back and forth from the one to the other, our inner lives tend to break up so that we live a divided instead of a unified life…I believe this state of affairs to be wholly unnecessary. We have gotten ourselves on the horns of a dilemma, true enough, but the dilemma is not real. It is a creature of misunderstanding. The sacred-secular antithesis has no foundation in the New Testament. Without doubt, a more perfect understanding of Christian truth will deliver us from it…We must offer all our acts to God and believe that He accepts them…All he does is good and acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For such a man, living itself will be a priestly ministration. – A. W. Tozer
Jesus is not first place in my life, as if there were things that rank after him. He is not merely the most important part of my life. Jesus is my life (Colossians 3:3-4). There’s no sense in comparing Jesus with other things and ranking him as number one. He isn’t separate from all other activities. He is intimately involved in every part and every moment of my life. And that’s true whether I know it or not. But when I am aware of it, things become a lot more fun.
Some of you reading this might be wondering whether God can really be equally encountered through reading a bible and eating a sandwich. I’m telling you that you can. God’s a lot less boring and religious than we’ve made him out to be in our own heads.
Think back to Adam and Eve in the garden. I highly doubt that they had words like “sacred” and “secular.” Also, they didn’t have bibles to read, set prayer times, or worship sessions. They were given the job of tending the garden, naming animals, and multiplying. Pretty “spiritual,” ay?
Truth be told, everything you do is “spiritual” because you are a spirit. What is more, you have been joined to the Lord and are one with Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17).
And that’s precisely why we get to encounter Jesus in everything. Wee~
One of the Lies Heard in Church Every Sunday
Erasing the Line Between the “Secular” & the “Sacred”
Worship: Epic Transitions in the New Covenant