Bulletin June 2021
by Bruce Billington
Sacred and Secular
A very harmful belief in Christianity has been the view that the world is divided between two realms – one sacred and one secular. I am not talking here about the attempt to distinguish between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness. The terms I have mentioned (sacred and secular) are prominent in many Christian Worldviews. They are sometimes as also described as what is “spiritual” and what is “natural” making the assumption that God has intentionally divided His world this way.
But this is not true. Paul teaches in Titus that to the holy (pure) all things are holy (Titus 1:15).
My comment here is that if you are doing anything – watching a movie, surfing the internet, playing rugby, eating dinner etc. etc. and you are not doing it in a holy way, you need to stop and correct your behaviour or turn off what you are watching. I often quote Martin Luther “don’t do anything you cannot ask God to bless.” This has been a wonderful guideline or boundary to me over the years.
The title of my first book is Eternity Begins Now. The emphasis of the book is that we can bring the age to come into the here and now. We don’t have to accept, and most certainly should not embrace, the ways of the fallen world. We can bring a beautiful presence, outlook, perspective and cleansing to it, that we draw from the life of the age to come, which we have been privileged to gain access to through God’s Word and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and other such teachings, were an attempt to get us to incarnate (meaning taking into the depth of our being), His ways so that we would become like Him. This means that so many of His attributes are not something we do – like love – they become someone we are. They become our true self.
None of us can make God love us more than He does right now so there is no point in trying. How can we impress someone (the Trinitarian God) who sees our every motive and knows our thoughts before we think them (Psalm 139)? So, what we have to learn is how to believe it, receive it, trust it and express it to others in every walk of life. The key foundations of the Kingdom of God are faithfulness and obedience. Striving to please God via our own works, negates this and only results in wearing us out.
Catherine LaCugna wrote a book called God for Us: The Trinity and the Christian Life. It is 450 pages long. At the end of her book she sums up what she was trying to say in her book with one epic sentence. She says, The very nature of God, therefore is to seek out the deepest possible communion and friendship with every last creature on earth (pg. 411).
If we accept this we can approach both God and life in such a different way. As I have mentioned in other Bulletins, we can “see” God everywhere. His presence is not only found when we are doing so called “spiritual” things. We can train ourselves to find His expression in every person, every situation (except sin), and every aspect of this amazing world we live in.
Paul tells us, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)
As we embrace the Kingdom of God we should be on the journey to embrace a whole of life Gospel. We should be aware of His presence as we relax, as we enjoy fellowship with those He has joined us to. We should discover His presence as we marvel at the joy of a new born baby, or sit at the feet of an elderly person who has walked with the Lord for decades and has so much to share if only we would stop and listen.
We should see His glory as we discover different cultures as well as the different animals, plants, and insects. I deny, to use modern language, that I am colour blind (claiming I don’t notice people of different colour). Until Covid I have spent more than 30 years travelling to and working with, different cultures. I marvel at the unique expression of God in the Asians, the Europeans, all the various indigenous people that live on this planet that I have been privileged to work with. The differences in each culture are sacred. Yes, all cultures need redeeming, but it is also true that each one holds a precious reflection of the glory of God and it is only as they all join together that we have a true expression of His glory in humanity.
Let me finish this comment by saying that too many of us are too busy, in too much of a rush and driven by the wrong motives and wrong dreams. As a result, we are missing the beauty and the glory of God that is everywhere to be seen but we have to learn how to look for it. Don’t seek to find God only by your good works – look for Him in every situation you find yourself in – He is there to be found, in fact He deeply desires for you to find Him there.
God bless you,