Tag Archives: Secular

Christian life…

I recently recalled a conversation that I had on a forum with an atheist/agnostic about Christians and how we live.  The subject came up in an odd context, but the resulting conversation surprised me.  It revolved around the idea of how Christians live life.  I was amused at the mental image this individual had of how I, as a Christian, would live my life and enjoy it, or rather, not enjoy it, according to them.

I have a feeling that there are misunderstandings out there because of specific teachings of certain denominations that tend towards legalism.  Yes, there are some denominations that preach that you can’t watch television, or movies rated over PG…that you can’t read a copy of Harry Potter, can’t wear makeup, can’t smoke, can’t drink, etc… etc…  However, that is a list that someone has decided on their own is proper, nowhere in the Bible does it prohibit such things.

My belief, which I feel is backed by scripture, is that a Christian is free in the Lord, as I’ve said before; freedom with responsibility, and that we should live by faith.  My partner in the conversation was quite surprised when I said that I felt my Christian faith enhanced my life, and that I did not feel I had a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” to live by.  I watch what I want on TV, some rated R movies are my favs, I read what I want to read, listen to whatever kind of music I like, play what kind of music I like on my guitars…I’m a woman, and wear makeup, pants, jeans usually, and converse sneakers when I’m not teaching.  I drink alcohol, but don’t get drunk, I write fiction, and used to enjoy a game of Magic: The Gathering back in the day, but prefer the XBox 360 now.

The Lord is not some cosmic killjoy.  Yes, I know that there are groups of Christians that cling to legalism that would have you believe that, but it isn’t true.  He came so that we “might have life, and might have it more abundantly.”  Now, are there certain things I stay away from because of my faith?  Absolutely.  There are also certain things I avoid because I feel prompted by the Holy Spirit.  There are also secular reasons to avoid certain things; some things, like certain kinds of music just annoy me, so I change stations when they come on.  There are psychological reasons for limitations on our viewing/listening habits as well, and health reasons to alter our behaviors.

The point is, is that coming to faith in Christ, and giving yourself and your life completely to Him isn’t going to “end your fun.”  By no means…in fact, the joy that one feels in everyday life is enhanced by faith such as that.  There are some Christians that feel called by the Holy Spirit to avoid any and all alcohol, and that means they should avoid it.  Some I’ve talked to have felt convicted to give up secular music, well, then they should.  You see, the Holy Spirit knows exactly what each of us needs and what we don’t need in our lives; what will make our lives more “happy.”  For some, they might not be able to handle limiting their alcohol intake, or perhaps their children might have a problem with it, so they should indeed avoid alcohol if called to.  That’s living by faith, not legalism; letting God guide us in our relationship with Him.

Now, the other aspect to this is to remember not to offend your brother/sister in Christ.  So, no matter who gets into my car (except my hubby), regardless of their religious beliefs, I turn my blaring radio down because I like to listen to bands such as Breaking Benjamin at high volume.  Ben likes to drop the occasional F-bomb, amongst other things, and I realize that might offend some people, so I shut the radio off or tune to a neutral station.

Christians are individuals who live individual lives; we are not all the same, and we certainly don’t all live the same way.  Will there be similar beliefs?  Yup.  Will we all hold to certain fundamental ideals of right and wrong, you know, the big ones, such as “thou shalt not murder,” sexual morality, not stealing etc…  Yup.  But that in no way detracts from out lives, unless someone contends that we have to go out and murder, pillage, and plunder in order to have fun… We also will slip and fall, and sin quite spectacularly, Christians are humans too.

Remember the two greatest commandments are to love God, and love our neighbors…yeah, the Lord is out to rain on our parade for sure…

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Filed under Christianity, Musings, Theology

Finding the Sacred in the “Secular”…

First, I don’t believe (once someone gets past being a “Sunday Christian” ) that there is a divide between the sacred and the secular, but that is a different post for a different day.  I’m going to use the labels to get my point across for the sake of this post.  Finding the sacred in the secular is a knack…not everyone has it, and not everyone wants it.  There are some hyper-fundamentalists, and some denominations that would disagree with pretty much everything I’m going to say in this installment.

When one comes to Christ, and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, it not something that is turned on and off…our beings become fundamentally changed and we are made a new creature.  A new creature sees and hears the world in a different way; everything starts having different meanings, and our lives are richer for it.  There have been many things in my life that have either taught me spiritual truth, or have made me think more deeply about some aspect of life, the universe, and everything, that have come from a secular source (by this point all my readers should see that plainly by my enjoyment of Doctor Who, amongst other things).  There are “secular” songs, for instance that are written about various subjects from romance to fame that resonate with me about theological issues, books that aren’t about religion in any way shape or form that touch my soul, movies that may reveal an aspect of our relationship to God or to other humans that were never “meant” by the writers, directors and producers to be taken that way.

There are those in Christendom that would tell each of us to shun everything secular…besides being impossible, isn’t that a bit presumptive?  When the Lord wanted to get a point across in a way that would stick in the minds of the people listening He often employed parables; teaching stories that brought in aspects of everyday life (that most would label “secular”) that also taught spiritual truth for those with the eyes and ears to see and hear the point He was making.  He was the Master at weaving the sacred into the mundane.  Now, I don’t believe that all secular musicians and writers are doing the same thing that He did, far from it, but I do believe that the Holy Spirit can use the secular to turn on a light bulb within us.

My point is this; keep your eyes and ears open, you never know what medium or in what way God may decide to get you thinking.  We are to be in the world, but not of it, we are to think of good and wonderful things…but that does not mean we are to live with our heads in the sand, or to stop up our ears and hide our eyes from all things secular.  The Holy Spirit is quite capable of directing us to something, or away from it on an individual basis, and I for one firmly believe that He uses the mundane to get us thinking and to transform the secular into the sacred; to transform various everyday experiences, like watching a television show, or listening to a song, or fishing, or hiking, or working out, or reading a book…into something that can teach us about the spiritual aspects of ourselves, or our relationship to Him.  And, no, that doesn’t give us an excuse not to turn to Him in His word, or to abandon “sacred” music…it’s just another aspect of our lives that He can (and I believe does) use. This can also fit into apologetics; when we are talking to others, it is sometimes easier for us to communicate a point by giving examples and drawing connections between things that people experience in a “secular” sense, depending on the other person’s experiences.

I hope to have a precise example written up to better illustrate my point by tomorrow, and will add the link here when it is up.  EDIT: Okay, here are my thoughts using a Breaking Benjamin song (a secular band) to remind readers that Jesus is a Lamb, and a Lion.

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Filed under Apologetics, Sacred Secular