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Breaking Down the Sacred-Secular Divide

by Mike Baer

Adapted from material first published on the Third Path Blog, as part of a series, reposted with kind permission.

What is the Sacred-Secular Divide?

You don’t have to go very far today to hear some reference to the ‘sacred-secular divide’ or the ‘sacred-secular dichotomy.’ It’s in all the books, blogs, conferences – and occasionally in a sermon. And it’s always in a negative connotation.

So what exactly is the sacred-secular divide? In one sense, it’s impossible to define. It’s a kind of culture, a nuance, an entirely too subtle way of looking at life, vocation and ministry. It’s a shadow that covers many other aspects of our lives. It seems innocuous, but it’s not. The divide is a false dichotomy, a false worldview, an infection in the minds of Jesus’ followers that has done incalculable damage to the cause of the Church.

However, we can at least approximate the meaning of the divide in this way. It is a view of life built on a separation or distinction between those things, people and places someone believes to be sacred (holy and of God) and those believed to be secular (worldly and not of God). Certain callings are holy (missionary, pastor) and others are secular, i.e. of the world and therefore unholy (business, medicine, construction, etc). Certain places are sacred as well—church buildings, graveyards, seminaries while others are secular—my house, your house, schools, and athletic stadiums. I know you might like the sentiment, but a candle lit in a church building is no more holy or special to God than a candle on my 2 year old grandson’s birthday cake. Caution: if that statement offends you, then you are living in the divide. In short, it is all about distinctions and separations and classes and castes. Read more

What is the Sacred-Secular Divide? 3 Short Videos

The sacred-secular divide is an unbiblical way of thinking about the world that pervades the modern church globally. It deeply affects the way we think about business and work and is one of the most frequently mentioned barriers to understanding and engagement in business as mission. In the coming weeks we will hear stories and teaching that will help to break down the sacred-secular divide. These three short videos, each just a few minutes long, will help answer the question, What is the Sacred-Secular Divide?

Mark Greene: Imagine – London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

The sacred-secular divide is the pervasive belief that some things are really important to God, and that other things aren’t… 

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Foundation: An Act of Worship

by Mike Baer

Like Business as Mission, the term Business as Worship has many meanings. As I listen to speakers and read current writing it seems that these fall rather easily into two major thought buckets:

  1. Business or Work as an Act of Worship
  2. Business or Work as an Act of Spreading the Worship of God

These are by no means mutually exclusive nor are they contradictory. In fact, both are wonderfully true and accurate. They are simply looking at the near term versus the eternal.

An Act of Worship

The core idea here is that worship, the act and attitude of ascribing worth to God and of prostrating ourselves, literally and figuratively, is not at all limited to what happens in a church building on Sunday morning. Singing, praying, listening to the Word of God and giving are all recognized forms of worship. But what about loving others and serving others? Or providing for our families and generating income for employees? What about honest labor? Accurate scales? Are not all of these also acts of worship? Indeed, when we speak of work as worship we are building on the Biblical truth that all of life, every single bit of living is meant to be done from a heart of submission to God and affection for Christ and our fellow man. All of life, except for sin, is in fact worship.

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Beliefs on Wealth Creation

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we head into winter we are highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past 6 months. Below is the “Editor’s Pick” for August to December 2017.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by The Lausanne Movement and BAM Global

Wealth Creation is Rooted in God

The Bible makes a bold claim, namely, that wealth creation is rooted in God the creator. He is the ultimate source of all wealth. Genesis 1:1 declares, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ And Genesis 2:1 notes that the creation of the heavens and the earth was completed on the sixth day. ‘God saw all that He had made, and it was very good’ (Gen 1:31a). The word in Hebrew that is translated ‘very good’ is closely related to shalom which is normally translated as ‘peace’, but also means completeness or wholeness, wholeness of the individual person, wholeness of human interactions with one another and wholeness of relationship between humankind and all creation.

The goodness of his creation is celebrated in Psalm 104, which provides a kind of mind map of creation starting with God (vv. 1-4), then moving to the earth (vv. 5-9), provision of productive resources (vv. 10-13), relationship between man and creation (vv. 14-26), relationship between created beings and God (vv. 27-30), and acknowledgment of God the Creator (vv. 31-34).

God created humanity ‘in our image, according to our likeness’ (Gen 1:26a) and delegated to humanity a co-creation role. In Genesis 1:28 this role is specified as to ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the earth’ (see also Ps 8:6-8). In doing so, God did not transfer ownership (see Ps 50: 10-12).

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Are You Really a Second-Class Christian?

By Dave Kahle

For much of my Christian life, I’ve struggled with a difficult and painful image of myself: I was a second-class Christian. No one ever said that to me in so many words, but a certain belief permeates our Christian culture so deeply that few Christians would ever question it:

Real ministry is defined by the time you spend in the official efforts of the church to evangelize the lost and edify the saved. This is the work that God is interested in, that He considers most important, special, and significant.

By accepting this false belief, our fruitfulness is hindered by shrinking and distorting our views of what we and our businesses can be. As a result, millions of Christians, like myself, lead lives that are far less productive than God wants. And hundreds of thousands of businesses are hampered in achieving their full potential. And that means that the Church’s influence and impact is light years away from that which it could be.

Here are some ways this belief is expressed in Christian culture:

A client recently told me that one of his salespeople left the company to go into full-time ministry. The implication was that the former employee merely ‘made a living’ when they worked for my client; now they did ‘real’ ministry – that work that is only in the context of the church.

Read more

Beliefs on Wealth Creation

by The Lausanne Movement and BAM Global

Wealth Creation is Rooted in God

The Bible makes a bold claim, namely, that wealth creation is rooted in God the creator. He is the ultimate source of all wealth. Genesis 1:1 declares, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ And Genesis 2:1 notes that the creation of the heavens and the earth was completed on the sixth day. ‘God saw all that He had made, and it was very good’ (Gen 1:31a). The word in Hebrew that is translated ‘very good’ is closely related to shalom which is normally translated as ‘peace’, but also means completeness or wholeness, wholeness of the individual person, wholeness of human interactions with one another and wholeness of relationship between humankind and all creation.

The goodness of his creation is celebrated in Psalm 104, which provides a kind of mind map of creation starting with God (vv. 1-4), then moving to the earth (vv. 5-9), provision of productive resources (vv. 10-13), relationship between man and creation (vv. 14-26), relationship between created beings and God (vv. 27-30), and acknowledgment of God the Creator (vv. 31-34).

God created humanity ‘in our image, according to our likeness’ (Gen 1:26a) and delegated to humanity a co-creation role. In Genesis 1:28 this role is specified as to ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the earth’ (see also Ps 8:6-8). In doing so, God did not transfer ownership (see Ps 50: 10-12).

Read more

Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation

AND THE AWARD GOES TO...

Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we head into summer we are highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out in the past 6 months. Below is the “Most Popular Post” for January to July 2017.

Please enjoy and thanks for following!

by Mats Tunehag

“Remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives  you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deut 8:18)

The Bible talks about wealth in three ways; one is bad and two are good. Hoarding of wealth is condemned. Sharing of wealth is encouraged. But there is no wealth to be shared unless it has been created.

Wealth is not a zero-sum game. Different kinds of wealth can and should be created, and can increase. All too often in the church the issue of wealth creation is misunderstood, neglected, or even rejected. The same thing applies to wealth creators.

Wealth creation is both a godly gift and a godly command (Deut 8). The people of Israel were commanded to seize business opportunities in mining and agriculture, and as a result the nation would prosper. However, God reminded them that wealth creation was a gift from him. It should be done in community and for community, recognizing the covenant, being accountable to God, and being mindful of blessing all peoples.

Wealth creation in and through business is beyond corporate philanthropy. Businesses do not exist to simply give away profit. They primarily exist to create different kinds of wealth for people and societies. It is not only about financial wealth, but also social, cultural, intellectual, and spiritual wealth.  Read more

Wealth Creation Manifesto

CWC Manifesto Cover 200Background

The Lausanne Movement and BAM Global organized a Global Consultation on The Role of Wealth Creation for Holistic Transformation, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in March 2017. About 30 people from 20 nations participated, primarily from the business world, and also from church, missions and academia. The findings will be published in several papers and a book, as well as an educational video. This Manifesto conveys the essentials of our deliberations before and during the Consultation.

Affirmations

1. Wealth creation is rooted in God the Creator, who created a world that flourishes with abundance and diversity.

2. We are created in God’s image, to co-create with Him and for Him, to create products and services for the common good.

3. Wealth creation is a holy calling, and a God-given gift, which is commended in the Bible.

4. Wealth creators should be affirmed by the Church, and equipped and deployed to serve in the marketplace among all peoples and nations. Read more

Calling the Church to Affirm Wealth Creators

by David Bennett

‘What is the role of wealth creation in holistic transformation?’ Have you ever heard a sermon or participated in a small group Bible study that answered this question? If your answer is ‘No’, you are not alone.

Although I have been preaching and teaching the Bible for over four decades, I had never addressed that question explicitly. I had taught about the dangers of obsession with wealth, and the importance of good stewardship of wealth. I had discussed the importance of ethical creation of wealth, and the compassionate sharing of wealth. I had advised foundations and wealthy individuals concerning the wise distribution of their wealth. But I had never taught about the God-given role of wealth creators. I had not highlighted the potential impact of a growing business, not only in lifting individuals out of poverty, but in benefiting entire communities, caring for creation, and introducing people to the good news of reconciliation and shalom through Jesus Christ.

Mats Tunehag, our first Lausanne Catalyst for Business as Mission (BAM), expresses it like this, in a chapter for a book soon to published by the Korean BAM movement:

The Bible talks about wealth in three ways; one is bad and two are good. Hoarding of wealth is condemned. Sharing of wealth is encouraged. But there is no wealth to be shared unless it has been created . . . All too often in the church the issue of wealth creation is misunderstood, neglected, or even rejected. The same thing applies to wealth creators.

Read more

God Gives Us What We Need

by Hugh Whelchel

The following is an excerpt from Monday Morning Success: How Biblical Stewardship Transforms Your Work, a recently published ebook by Hugh Whelchel on the biblical meaning of success. Download the ebook FREE here.  

 

God gave humans not only the physical world, but our own talents – gifts and abilities that we can use to serve him. Prior to the Reformation, the medieval church interpreted the talents in Jesus’ parable as spiritual gifts God bestowed on Christians. But the Reformers upset the status quo of the church by teaching people that their work matters to God. Martin Luther said, “The work of the milkmen is just important to God as the work of the priest.” Later, John Calvin helped shape the modern meaning of the world talents by defining them as gifts from God in the form of a person’s calling and natural abilities, rather than just spiritual gifts.

Despite some historical disagreements over the precise interpretation of talents, they are basically the tools God gives us to carry out the cultural mandate. He gives us everything we need to do what he has called us to do. In calling us to plant a garden, God gives us shovels, trowels, land, seed, strength, and patience. It is then our responsibility to use those gifts to the best of our ability. Even once we’ve used our gifts to till the soil and plant the seed, we look to him for rain and sun to secure the outcome of healthy plants. But without the contribution of our labor, the garden doesn’t grow.

Calvin challenged believers “to work, to perform, to develop, to progress, to change, to choose, to be active, and to overcome until the day of their death or the return of their Lord.” Calvin understood scripture to teach that “the whole of a man’s life is to be lived as in the Divine Presence.” As Pastor John Piper explains:  Read more