"The idea that the service to God should have only to do with a Church altar, singing, reading, sacrifice, and the like is without a doubt but the worst trick of the devil. How could the devil have led us more effectively astray than by the narrow conception that service to God takes place only in Church and by works done therein... the whole world could abound with services to the Lord... not only in churches but also in the home, kitchen, workshop, field." - Martin LutherThe separation of the sacred from the secular, while often born of good motives, can lead to some significant confusion when we attempt to live out our faith. Certainly, there is an understanding throughout Scripture and Church tradition that some people. things and actions are holy, set apart for God and the purposes of God. It is equally clear that some of our human desires and cultural norms are at odds with God's design. However, our lives are not neatly compartmentalized. We live in the place where the sacred and the secular meet.
We are called to be in the world, but not of the world. I grew up on this truth, but mostly I remember the teachings being about how not to be of the world. I know there are several scriptures that call us not to be conformed to the world and to lay aside the works of the flesh. We are called to live distinctive lives, yet we live them in the context of the world around us. We are invited into a relationship with an extraordinary God as we live our faith in the ordinary parts of life.
As Martin Luther points out in the quote above, it is a great deception to think that the only important work of the kingdom takes place in churches and church activities. As temples of the Holy Spirit, we bring the indwelling presence of God with us wherever we go. We make even the most common work holy, for we offer it as a gift to the Lord.
When the Apostle Paul wrote the Colossian church, he encouraged them in this way saying, "Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord." (3:23) Now, I recognize that these words come in a portion of the letter offering direction for Christian households and that this was specifically a charge to slaves, reminding them to offer their service not to their masters, but as unto the Lord. However, the principle certainly has a broader application. As servants of Christ, everything we do is in service to him and to the honor and glory of his name.
So, it is not just what I do on Sunday morning that matters, nor is it only the parts of my life I typically consider Christian. Everything, every facet of who I am, every activity I am engaged in, and every relationship I am a part of is a sacred offering to God. This means faith is immensely practical. The way I do my job, how I treat my family, and how I care for others matters to God. The stewardship of my body, my resources and the world matters to God. Everything I do, matters to God, therefore, it matters what I do.
When we understand that, for the Christian, all of life is sacred, then how we live life becomes an expression of faith. It is not enough to think of God only when engaged in religious activity. In fact, that should be the celebration of the holiness in the rest of our life.
As we enter this Labor Day weekend, we do more than celebrate people who work, we celebrate the opportunity our work gives us to serve. Here we have a time to reflect on how we serve Christ in all that we do.
An anonymous author said it best in these simple words, "work becomes worship when done for the Lord." May this knowledge change the way we view our worship and the way we understand our work, for in everything, we are involved in the very work of God.