Republican or Democrat?
Wal-Mart or Target?
Ford or Chevy?
Coke or Pepsi?
Mac or PC?
Lowe’s or Home Depot?
John, Paul, George or Ringo?
We live in an either / or world. Our answers to these stereotypical questions say something about who we are, or at least that’s what we’re told. It seems as if we’re constantly creating new ways to define ourselves, new categories to help us explain our life and ascribe meaning to our existence. (Just for the record, I’m a Ford / Mac / Lowe’s guy myself.)
Personally, I don’t think there’s anything necessarily harmful with these categories (although I’m afraid sometimes I derive too much of my identity from them). But I believe the real danger comes when an either / or mentality begins to creep in to my spiritual life.
Sometimes I have the tendency to view my life as divided into two major categories: sacred and secular. The sacred activity of my life is the “spiritual” arena where I do “spiritual things” like read my Bible, go to church and pray. I keep God and my spiritual life neatly compartmentalized here — as if I could bind God when the heavens can’t even contain Him! — and I even choose to dwell in this spiritual sphere a couple hours a week (usually on Sundays and Wednesdays).
But the rest of my life is just that — my life. My time, my money, my decisions. After checking the spiritual box on my weekly checklist, I’m free to live the rest of my week in the larger arena of my life, the secular sphere. This is where I live Monday through Saturday as I go to work, raise my kids and earn a living. And this life is distinct and separate from my “spiritual life”.
Clearly, this is a gross generalization. But you can see the danger in an either / or mentality with regard to your spiritual life. Even our terminology — “Spiritual life”. What is a “spiritual life”? Do I have a “spiritual life” and a “secular life”? — is flawed. All of this runs counter to the biblical witness. Scripture says our God is a jealous, consuming God. He is not content with our categories and our compartmentalizations. He longs for us to be holy in the truest sense of the term: to be “set apart” for God. Jesus doesn’t speak of a “spiritual life”; he speaks of loving the Lord your God with all your strength, all your soul, all of your being.
Following Jesus is a lifestyle, an experience that transforms our worldview and transcends our categories. Following Jesus means the line between sacred and secular dissipates and my entire existence becomes a holy offering devoted to the Lord.