Sacred / Secular / Profane – Jeremy Austill
Sacred / Secular / Profane

Sacred : set apart for the service or worship of a deity

Secular : relating to the worldly / temporal; not overly / specifically religious

Profane : not holy, impure, defiled; to treat somethingg sacred with abuse

Within a matter of hours, two different thoughts found their way into my world. One from the Apostle Paul and the other from a modern day psalmist, Jason Upton.

Paul, via Titus 1:15 – “Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving.”

Jason Upton, via one of his recent teachings – “It’s not sacred or secular, it’s sacred or profane.”

I hate name tags. I’m not sure why I bear such disdain for a harmless inanimate object, but I pretty much refuse to wear them. At the events we host, we create name badges and lanyards for those in attendance. My administrative assistant knows to not even make one for me because I will not hang it from my neck. I don’t know if it’s because they look tacky, or if on some subconscious level I like the mystery of not wearing my name around my neck. I completely understand the value of the name tag. It helps people identify you. It helps them know your name, and at our events there is usually a schedule on the back explaining where you are supposed to be and when. So, these lanyards serve a great purpose, but for whatever psychologically disturbed reason, I can’t even.

In general, we like clear definition. We like to know what something is…or who someone is in the case of the name tags.

In life there is a comfort in having clearly defined rules of engagement. We like to compartmentalize. We like to be able to identify something as belonging in a particular place or category.

For the christian, this is a tension we often wrestle with, whether we fully realize it or not. We assess our efforts, where we expend our energy, to what we allot our time, what we cherish and value, and often try to decipher is it “spiritual”.

We will categorize some activities as spiritual, or sacred. Activities such as prayer, bible reading, singing worship songs, giving an offering, helping someone in need, so on and so forth…

Then we will categorize other activities as non-spiritual, or secular. Activities such as watching sports, hunting, going on a hike, going to the movies, eating a great meal, dancing, so on and so forth…

Then there is what we consider profane. I see no need to make a list here.

I would rather pose a question for consideration. What if it’s not so much the activity, or the expression that is secular or sacred? What if it’s the heart that is either sacred or secular?

In recent years I found a great deal of freedom, and a wide-eyed new view of beauty when I came to the realization that as a “kingdom person”, almost everything has the capacity to be sacred. Why? because there is nothing I do that God is detached from. Suddenly the fall foliage as I drive down the interstate is sacred. Doing small jobs around the house is sacred. Sitting in a tree stand watching the frost melt is sacred. Dancing with my daughter, full of delight, is sacred.

Conversely, remember when a man named Cain did a “sacred” thing and gave an offering to God? Yet, by God’s response we learn it was actually a moment of profanity. The action had the appearance of sacredness, but the heart was profane.

I return to Paul’s words to Titus, to the pure, all things are pure. Learn to spend less time trying to figure out what things are sacred or secular, spiritual or non-spiritual, and more time cultivating a heart that can see and sense God in it all.

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