“One of the greatest hindrances to 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.” – A.W. Tozer 1
Followers of Jesus have an all too common tendency to compartmentalize faith and life. Generally speaking, from my experience in churches around North America for the last 27 years, I’ve come to believe that there is a huge disconnect among Christians between the sacred and the secular, between theology and life, between Sunday and every other day, between love and action. The idea of being part of the Body of Christ is often severed between the inner and outer workings of our mind and hearts. The fusion of our discipleship and our daily “business” interactions with others can seem elusive. (The diagram shows how we often segregate "church" from what we consider our "real life").
Because of the Incarnation of Jesus, the onus is now on us to live an incarnated life of ministry together as the Church, his Body. Jesus commands his disciples to be his witnesses by doing what he did.2 This implies being willing to go to similarly extreme lengths in order in order to share the love and life of Jesus with others… even to the point of laying down everything, including our very lives for the sake of serving God and others.3 In other words, we are to go into the world as a knit-community sharing with every neighbor, nation, tribe and tongue the person of Jesus Christ, who himself came into the world. Just as Jesus did not grasp onto his divine rights as God, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant in human flesh, so are his followers to exhibit the same attitude.4
But "followers" of Jesus tend to compartmentalize and privatize our discipleship. We tend to view the spiritual life as separate from our regular life. We tend to view evangelism as the job of the employed staff that we hire to do that sort of thing. We tend to treat church as a building, or as a one-hour Sunday gathering, rather than as the incarnational identity of God’s missional people in this world. Our faith, which should be transformational and encompassing, tends instead to be hidden to neighbors and coworkers during the rest of the week.
1 Tozer, A.W. The Pursuit of God. Harrisburg, PA: Christian Publications, 1968, 117.
2 Matthew 28:18-19; Mark 16:15-20; John 15:26-27; 17:20-26; Acts 1:7-8.
3 Luke 14:25-33, John 15:13
4 Philippians 2:5-8
Ken, this is all too true. The job site I work on has a number of guys who are church attenders but you would never know it by their words and actions at work.
What’s been interesting for me is that I would almost rather engage those who are somewhat searching or open (which excitingly is now happening almost daily!) rather than those who have been exposed to the Western way of doing church because on average the church-attenders don’t seem to be getting it.
I’m becoming more convinced that planting a grass-roots church incarnationally by meeting the indigenous needs of those you are rubbing shoulders with on a daily basis is where my heart lies. I’m convinced that it must be a team effort so if you know of anyone let me know…
I just wrote an exam on theology today and your comment reminded me of my professor’s favorite discussion. The church as the body of Christ. Not each individual but the whole thing. He referred to the church as the second incarnation. The incarnation being a miraculous and mysterious mingling of what makes Jesus fully God and Fully man that he can cover our sins and be an example for us at the same time. In this we, as the church, also blend the divine and the human. Clearly the people are the human and the bond we have to each other and with each other and to God and from God is the Holy Spirit, being the divine part. This second incarnation is supposed to do even more than what Christ came to do while on earth, even greater things actually. Do we do that?