Sacred Versus Secular: A False Distinction

Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Sacred Versus Secular: A False Distinction


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Labor Day is over and it's back to work and school. The "secular" intrudes on the "sacred." But what if both are imposters?

 

"Secular" translates Latin for "the world." "Sacred" translates Latin for "holy." But our holy God (Isaiah 6:3) made the world (Genesis 1:1). So who separated holiness and the world into Sunday and Monday, "religion" and "reality"?

 

You can blame George Jacob Holyoake, who coined the term "secularism" in 1851. Or Alberico Gentili (1587-1608), the first legal scholar to separate natural law from church law. But the "secular" impulse is part of fallen human nature. We all want a part of the world on which to plant our rebel flag and say, "Mine." We want to compartmentalize our lives into what God gets and what we get. We want to transact business with God—if we do what he says, perhaps he'll do what we say. As C. S. Lewis notes, we're like honest people who pay our taxes but certainly hope there is money left over to do what we want. 

 

So we call Sunday "the Lord's Day," as though the other six days are ours. But our souls want more of God than our calendars permit. The so-called "secular" world understands this fact, perhaps better than many "sacred" organizations.

 

Consider SoulCycle, a fitness phenomenon that has grown to include more than 300,000 participants in 46 studios across the United States. Its corporate filing states: "Our mission is to bring Soul to the people." How? "SoulCycle instructors guide riders through an inspirational, meditative fitness experience designed to benefit the body, mind and soul. Set in a dark, candlelit room to high-energy music, our riders move in unison as a pack. . . . The experience is tribal. It is primal. And it is fun."

 

SoulCycle is not Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim. But it is a worship experience, in a non-traditional, non-sectarian, "spiritual-but-not-religious" way. It's perfect for our post-Christian, relativistic day. And it's growing by leaps and bounds, with plans to open 250 more studios.

 

Consider two facts.

 

One: Every person you know is seeking God. Many don't know that God is the one they seek, of course. But our souls are as hungry as our bodies. Both yearn for that which gives them life. Both want to be fed every day. The psalmist spoke for us all: "As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God" (Psalm 42:1).

 

Two: Every person you know is being sought by God. He "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). Our Lord "does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent" (2 Peter 3:9 NLT). He is a Father who seeks to restore every child to himself.

 

So the holiday is over, but it doesn't have to be. "Holiday" is derived from "holy day." Since every day is holy to God, every day is a holiday. Every day is another day to "seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!" (1 Chronicles 16:11). Every day is another day to share God's love with those he seeks for himself.

 

Today will be as sacred as you choose for it to be.

 

 

Publication date: September 8, 2015

 

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