I once divided the Christian life into a spiritual realm and a mundane realm. When operating in the spiritual realm I somehow invoked God’s presence through a variety of spiritual disciplines, and it was predominantly through worship, Bible reading and prayer I could enjoy my Father. The mundane realm was everything else. In this realm I hoped God would help me to act worthy of the calling. I didn’t know then, but my outlook was heavily influenced by deism, a philosophy which is rampant in the western hemisphere. It causes us, often involuntarily, to put different glasses on, as it were, depending on what we do or where we are. This inevitably raises a lot of questions.
What do we say to the nurse who spends a lifetime in hospitals, or the truck driver who delivers bread to the groceries every day? What do we say to the fishermen, the firemen, the oil workers and architects, the nurses and mechanics, the sanitation engineers, social workers and business men and women, to the fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers about what they do with the vast majority of their time on this planet? What do we say to the teacher who gives her heart to the children, but who rarely are valued and barely makes it on a lousy salary?
Does the gospel include what they do in their lives? Do we find the Spirit working mightily in their circumstances? Are those who are in a full time ministry more worth than those who perhaps visit church once a week? Do we have any good news for those who spend most of their lives in the marketplace? The Bible summons us to pray ceaselessly. How is that possible if you spend most of your life outside the four walls of a church? Jesus spent merely one tenth of His life in public ministry. What about the other nine tenths? Did He devote most of His life to the “mundane” realm? How could He pray ceaselessly when He socialized with prostitutes and others on the peripherals of society?
If the Christian message is incapable of affirming people where they are then Christendom is most irrelevant to a vast multitude of people. Can we affirm their humanity as it is displayed in work, play and relationships? Is there more to life than ‘do your duty now and you will find rest for your soul in heaven’?
Isn’t the answer to all our questions to tell people who they are in Christ? To tell them that in Christ their humanity is perfected? What a relief it must be when we inform them that everything they do is inspired by the Holy Spirit. What if we tell the teacher that her love for the children originates in God – that it is He who works mightily in her to care for their needs? Wouldn’t the truck driver alter his view on his work if he knew that it is God who sits behind the wheel manifesting Himself in this “mundane” task of delivering goods? What if we told the farmer and his family that the Lord has no intention of being the Lord without them (to borrow from Karl Barth)?
How do we pray ceaselessly? Jesus prayed ceaselessly when He through faith acknowledged that He and His Father were one and that everything He did His Father did also. To pray ceaselessly is in other words to recognize the union reality by faith no matter what we do or don’t do. We are always serving Him with our members whether asleep or awake. The good news we can share with those who spend most of their lives outside church is that there is no separation. There is no deism in the gospel. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything to the glory of God.” How? By faith!
In the curriculum of the school of the Spirit we find fits of rage, depression, illnesses, afflictions, boring tasks etc. Everything is meant for our good so that every notion of separation can be dispelled as trash as we go through the unique scheme the Spirit has fashioned for each and everyone of us in order to open our eyes to a reality more glorious than we could ever imagine. The school’s goal is to graduate sons of God who know who they are and hence ultimately one day say as Jesus: I only do what I see my Father is doing. That day we no longer separate our worlds in a mundane and a spiritual. We see God only in action everywhere.