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10 Quotes on the Sacred-Secular Divide

by | Feb 12, 2024 | Articles, Faith and Work, Resources

As followers of Jesus, we almost instinctively separate our lives into sacred and secular partitions. Going to church is seen as a sacred activity, but going to work is secular. Preaching a sermon is an obvious godly endeavor, but managing apartments, waiting tables, or building houses is just worldly work.

But this is not how the early church looked at everyday life and work. This “sacred-secular divide” is really a form of ancient gnosticism the Church has been pushing back against since the first century. It’s a battle we need to continue today.

So we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite quotes on the subject, from the days of the Protestant Revolution to today.

Breaking Down the Sacred-Secular Divide

 

“There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out ‘This is mine – this belongs to me.'”

Abraham Kuyper

 

“To a man who lives unto God nothing is secular, everything is sacred. He puts on his workday garment and it is a vestment to him. He sits down to his meal and it is a sacrament. He goes forth to his labor, and therein exercises the office of the priesthood. His breath is incense and his life a sacrifice. He sleeps on the bosom of God, and lives and moves in the divine presence.  To draw a hard and fast line and say, “This is sacred and this is secular,” is, to my mind, diametrically opposed to the teaching of Christ and the spirit of the gospel.”

Charles Spurgeon

 

“The spiritual manifests in a life that knows no distinction between sacred and secular.”

AW Tozer

 

“There is truly no division between sacred and secular except what we have created. And that is why the division of the legitimate roles and functions of human life into the sacred and secular does incalculable damage to our individual lives and to the cause of Christ. Holy people must stop going into “church work” as their natural course of action and take up holy orders in farming, industry, law, education, banking, and journalism with the same zeal previously given to evangelism or to pastoral and missionary work.”

Dallas Willard

 

“Your work is a very sacred matter. God delights in it, and through it he wants to bestow his blessings on you. This praise of work should be inscribed on all tools, on the forehead and faces that sweat from toiling.”

Martin Luther

 

“The fact that God put work in paradise is startling to us because we so often think of work as a necessary evil or even punishment. Yet we do not see work brought into our human story after the fall of Adam, as part of the resulting brokenness and curse; it is part of the blessedness of the garden of God. Work is as much a basic human need as food, beauty, rest, friendship, prayer, and sexuality; it is not simply medicine but food for our soul. Without meaningful work we sense significant inner loss and emptiness.”

Tim Keller

 

“Life is not divided into sacred and secular categories. Everything we do is for God’s glory.”

Chuck Swindoll

 

‘[Work] should be looked upon, not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God. That it should, in fact, be thought of as a creative activity undertaken for the love of the work itself; and that man, made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing.”

Dorothy Sayers

 

“Work shows up in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. It is a “pre-Fall” phenomenon and that’s important to remember. Work is part of God’s normative, good intentions for how the world ought to be. In Genesis 3, as we all know, work becomes the fallen thing that we sometimes experience it to be now: hard, sweaty, frustrating. But work is a good thing, created by God.”

Amy L. Sherman

 

“Not one, but two callings. The original calling—to rule over the earth. To make culture. And a new calling—to make disciples….The new calling to make disciples does not negate or cancel out the original calling.”

Jordan Raynor

 

Erik Cooper

After starting his career in the business world, Erik spent 12 years in full-time ministry, both on staff at a large suburban church and as a church planter in a downtown urban context. In addition to his role at The Stone Table, he also serves as the Vice President of Community Reinvestment Foundation, a nonprofit real estate company that provides high-quality affordable housing all over Indiana while investing its profits into missions through The Stone Table.

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