“They’re Christians in a band, but are you sure the music they make is actually Christian? Maybe they’re just Christians who make secular music?”
Many of us have witnessed the devastating process of a beloved Christian band going off the deep end. What once was a safe alternative to the Green Days and the Linkin Parks of the world start to gradually (and sometimes, seriously) lose the plot. What does it really mean, though, to “lose the plot” in this scenario?
Since our theme this month is centred on cliché words and phrases in Christian culture, it really makes sense to dive straight into the (secular) definition of the word “secular”.
Secular: Adjective, meaning “worldly rather than spiritual”.
Alternatively: Not specifically relating to religion or a religious body.
Through further Google-based research, I discovered that, on thesaurus.com, the word “holy” is actually listed as an antonym of the word “secular”. The more I looked into it, the more it became apparent that the difference between the words “secular” and “holy” was vast, if not infinite. In 2 Corinthians 7:1, Paul only stresses this separation and gives us a heads-up on how we should act accordingly:
“Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” (NIV)
We’re called to be set apart from the world’s mainstream culture, which can be really brutal. It’s especially hard when you’re constantly immersed in an extremely secular environment, like a public school. Most importantly, though, this principle of being “out of the world” seems to go directly against another famous passage that you’ve most likely heard of. This command, found in the book of Matthew, is nick-named “The Great Commission.”
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:16-20, NIV)
It’s literally impossible to go forth and make disciples of all nations without venturing out into the nations (unless you’re some kind of hipster Internet-wielding teacher). Even Paul, who wrote the book of 2 Corinthians which contains the “let us purify ourselves” verse, often details the times he’s had to adjust a personal preference so as to fit in with those he’s ministering to.
With that in mind, how do these two contrasting worlds collide?
It’s actually really simple. The phrase that best describes this may be another cliché, but it puts it well: We are “In the world, but not of it.”
As Christians, we’re called to minister to people of the world, but not succumb to the ways of the world. However, the John lays it out brilliantly (of course) in his book when he says that it won’t be the most popular of callings.
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:19, NIV)
Often, however, this task clashes with our sin nature. As a result of living in the world and not of it, it’s easy to get a bit of superiority complex. In addition, this mentality coupled with sinful tendencies could definitely lead to victimization on occasion.
It’s definitely daunting. It’s the greatest purpose we’ve ever received and ever will receive. To pass it off as difficult and ignore the responsibility we’ve been given is not only negligent: it’s a tragedy. As the gap between mainstream culture and Christian culture closes in, we can’t forget our calling, no matter how controversial it may seem.