I think Coldplay is an awesome group. Their new album X & Y is terrific. I was telling a “church” person about my musical tastes and they said, “I don’t listen to secular music … (supply your own self-righteous tone here) … I only listen to Christian music.”
A person’s worldview matters. It matters because it colors and frames everything we perceive about life. The classic church worldview is to classify everything into either sacred (church=good) or secular (world=not good) categories, judging every experience of life as valuable or harmful.
So, being a good church-person I will listen to Christian music. I will read Christian books. I will attend Christian seminars. I will acquire Christian art. I will have Christian friends. I will frequent Christian establishments. I will sport a Christian bumper sticker. I will vote for Christian candidates. I will wear Christian t-shirts. I will support Christian values. I will argue for Christian morality. In short, I will live in the ghetto of the Christian sub-culture and feel secure knowing that I’m on the sacred side of life.
So … U2’s off limits … but what about some Christmas music, like Jingle Bells, is that okay? And CSI is good television; can’t we include that? The Gap has some cool threads, no fish symbols emblazoned on them, but maybe we can wear some Gap stuff, too. I know that I can’t like Harry Potter, but are the Disney classics with witches and magic okay? Surely, there is some redeeming value in rooting for my team to crush their opponents? These don’t fit neatly into the sacred group, but can’t we squeeze them in somehow?
My mind is spinning! What about my business? Where does school fit? Or sports? Or parties? Or mountain climbing? Or the arts? Or orgasms? Hmmm … where does sex fit on the sacred/secular continuum?
Instead of allowing his followers to be moral schizophrenics, God gave us some very simple advice …
Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it. We may receive it gladly, with thankful hearts. (1 Timothy 4:4)
Could it be that easy? Emphatically, yes! Everything God created is good. We shouldn’t reject any of it. We should receive it gladly and thankfully. The sacred/secular mindset is a perversion of God’s generous gifts to humanity. In the desire to keep away from evil, people have quenched the possibility for pleasure through many of the forms that God intended.
I can hear someone’s moral worldview beginning to crack, and nervously they ask, “If the sacred/secular contention isn’t true, then how can I know what is good and what is evil?”
Consider this by C. S. Lewis …
There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to him and bad when it turns from him. (C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce)
The issue is not the song, not the art, not the movie, not the clothes, not anything in the categories of sacred or secular. What matters is my motive. Why am I doing what I am doing? For what purpose and to what end?
Theologian Martin Buber said,
What matters is not what is being done, but the fact that every act is filled with sanctity—that is, with God-oriented intent. There is nothing that is evil in itself; every passion can become a virtue, every inclination a “vehicle of God.” It is not the matter of the act that is decisive, but its sanctification. Every act is hallowed if it is directed towards salvation. The soul of the doer alone determines the character of the deed. (Martin Buber, Mamre)
There is a sacred and secular, and here is how you find it: To the person who lives their lives with a God-conscious worldview everything is sacred or can be turned that way. To a person who lives their lives with a self-conscious worldview, everything is secular, because the world revolves around them instead of God.