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::?Sacred?:: - OR - ::?Secular?::

6 February, 2003 2:28 PM

I have been interacting online with a great group of young Aussie Christians the past year or so on a discussion forums site - they really get me thinking about my own journey and theology.

One of the recurring themes seems to be questions like - 'Should Christians watch TV?' or 'Should we be going to movies?' or 'should Christians go to the pub?' or 'Should we be reading Harry Potter?' or 'should we go to parties where there are the more dubious types of people and activities?' I guess in many ways these are good questions and ones that many young Christians typically ask - questions that as I grew up I asked.

What alot of these questions seem to be asking is 'how as Christians should we be interacting with our world?' and 'do we run the risk of being influenced negatively by this world if we do interact with it?'

My fear is that as Christians we often write certain spaces, people and aspects of the world we live in off as 'secular' or 'unholy'. They are places that we should not go, people we should not speak to etc because they may have a 'bad influence' on us. By inference I wonder if we are really saying that these are places where God is not present.

As I read the bible I don't meet a God who is not present in certain places. I meet a God who is working in some very unlikely ('unholy' even) characters lives. I meet a God who parties with the Tax Collector, interacts with prostitutes and touches the leper. I meet a God who is bringing the whole of creation to himself and who calls his people to join him in this task.

I was reminded at the Forge Intensive today by another Darren that Jesus said in John 5:17 'My Father never stops working, so why should I?' and then in v19 'the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does'.

Jesus looked for what his Father was already doing in the world - in the 'unholy' places and people and then he joined him in those places. God is at work on the fringes of our society as much as he is at work in the centre. He is at work as much in the local pub or movie theatre as he is in the local church.

As Darren shared today - ' the question is not whether it is ok for me to be in the pub - the question is whether it is ok if I'm NOT in the pub?!'

Yes we do need to be balanced in our thinking - we do need to be accountable when we go to the fringes and to look at our motivations. We need to evaluate our own limitations and weaknesses and to discern where God is calling us to join him. However I think it might be more 'sinful' to write of such places and people as 'unholy' than for us to actually go to them and find what God is doing there and join him in it.

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