Sacred/Secular Divide

Video / Produced by partner of TOW

We say we believe that every part of our lives belongs to God, but do we really? Mark Greene looks at Christians’ work lives and asks, How come we spend more time singing Christmas carols at the mall than we do getting trained to follow Jesus in the major activities of our jobs?


Mark Greene: The sacred secular divide is the pervasive belief that some things are really important to God and that other things aren’t.

On the sacred side of the divide, there’s church, prayer meetings, social action, world missions, singing carols outside Tesco’s, and so on. We believe these things are important to God, and they are. But other human activities are at best neutral: work, school, college, sports, the arts, music (unless it’s got Christian words with it), leisure sleep, rest – these sorts of things belong firmly on the secular side of life.

On the one hand we teach our kids what to think of Harry Potter, because it’s set in a school of witches and wizards, but on the other hand, we hardly ever help them to think biblically about what they read and study day by day at school.

Of course, if you ask any Christian, “Do you think all of your life matters to God?” They’re going to say, “Yup!” But I wonder: do we really? And if we do, why is it that stories like this one abound?

Teacher Testimonial: “I teach Sunday school once a week for 45 minutes, and my church asks me to come up to the front so they can pray for me. For the rest of the week I’m a fulltime teacher, and as far as I can remember no one has ever offered to pray for the work I do in schools. It’s as if they want to support half my profession and not the other half. It’s difficult because no one would say that teaching Sunday school is more important than the work I do for the rest of the week, but that’s the unspoken message that I get. If you look at it this way: I’ve got 45 minutes once a week with children who are generally open to the Gospel, with parents who are supportive of the faith, or 45 hours a week with kids who have very little knowledge of Christianity and parents who are either as ignorant or hostile to the faith.”

Mark Greene: Which context needs more prayer? Both. And that was a teacher! When was the last time we prayed for the cleaner? Look at your church’s prayer diary. What’s in there about people’s ordinary Monday to Saturday, day-to-day lives?

Look at your church’s prayer diary, for where your prayer is there your heart is. Think about your own praying. What do you pray about? And what do you ask other people to pray about?

In reality, the sacred secular divide has had a devastating impact on two key areas of Christian life: our mission and our living.