I grew up in a loving home and am blessed with two parents who deeply love God and each other. My father is also a pastor.
There are a myriad of reactions I get when this comes up in conversation—mostly knowing looks, sometimes sympathetic ones. I told this to one woman who turned to my friend (now husband) and said I probably had an inclination to rebellion.
Growing up with parents who devoted their lives to full-time church ministry has shaped a lot of who I am, more in good ways than bad ones. My journey has been a bit unique, in that I didn’t struggle with hurt or bitterness towards the Church. For me, it has been an issue of pride—of thinking of myself, my family, my faith as more important, more valued, and more sacred than others. And in a sense, this isn’t far off from what I experienced from those inside the Church.
Often without intention we subtly communicate this to church or ministry leaders. In the words we say, our actions, the expectations we set—our inclination is that these people have a devotion to God that goes a little deeper, is a little more serious, a little closer to perfect than ours. That their lives are a little more sacred than the rest of us.
However, when we contrast this view with the gospel, we see something vastly different.
From the beginning of the gospel narrative, God gave His followers a job description: “…and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth’” (Gen. 1:28).
We are to be fruitful and multiply (hello, mommas out there!) and subdue the earth. This phrase, “subdue the earth,” means to use the things that God has created. Run factories, study science, play music, write a book, or build a bridge.
And let’s not forget: make a meal, fill a spreadsheet, plant crops, change a diaper, run a register, stock a shelf, or write a paper. These not-so-glamorous ones are on this list, too.
Jesus was a carpenter; Paul was a tentmaker; Luke, a doctor; Mary, a mother.
According to the gospel, all of these, if done to God’s glory, are sacred. They are fulfilling God’s calling to us and they are valued by God.
When Paul was writing a letter to the church at Colossians he gave instructions to each member of a household. He concludes with this command, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23–34).
We have all heard this passage many times, perhaps many of us quoting it to children if they complain of chores or mundane work.
Yet, do we apply this to every aspect of our worldview? Do we view some work, jobs, even families, as more sacred than our own?
Or, even more, do we view our lives as more (or less) sacred than others’?
In October of 1939, C.S. Lewis preached a sermon titled “Learning in War Time.”
This was during the height of World War II, and many students in Oxford were struggling with the idea that they were studying literature, art, philosophy, while many of their brothers and friends were fighting in the war. These students, like many of us in the trenches of everyday life, felt as though their work and present callings were trivial compared to the war at hand. But Lewis, not negating the duty to serve their country, wrote:
“It is for a very different reason that religion cannot occupy the whole of life in the sense of excluding all our natural activities. For, of course, in some sense, it must occupy the whole of life. There is no question of a compromise between the claims of God and the claims of culture, or politics, or anything else. God's claim is infinite and inexorable. You can refuse it: or you can begin to try to grant it. There is no middle way. Yet in spite of this it is clear that Christianity does not exclude any of the ordinary human activities. St. Paul tells people to get on with their jobs. He even assumes that Christians may go to dinner parties, and, what is more, dinner parties given by pagans. Our Lord attends a wedding and provides miraculous wine. Under the aegis of His Church, and in the most Christian ages, learning and the arts flourish. The solution of this paradox is, of course, well known to you. ‘Whether ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.’ All our merely natural activities will be accepted, if they are offered to God, even the humblest: and all of them, even the noblest, will be sinful if they are not.” (The Weight of Glory)
Lewis is right.
If the missionary does his duty not unto God but for himself, then all that he does is sinful. If we, in whatever our roles may ask of us—a sink full of dishes, a double shift in retail, a middle of the night wake-up, an early morning quiet time—do our duties as unto God and offer them to Him for His glory, then these everyday, seemingly mundane things are holy and deeply valued by God.
They become sacred.
The temptation in our minds and hearts is to divide the spiritual and the secular—those parts of our lives we deem holy from those that we deem not-so-holy. But, as Lewis writes, our commandment to obey God should pervade each area—whether we will spend our lives caring for one person or saving the lives of 100. That each and everything we do would be done unto Him and for His glory—this is what makes it sacred.
Rachel Dee lives in Dayton, Tennessee, and is most passionate about being a wife to her scholar-husband Matt and a momma to their one-year-old fella, Jack. She works as a Resident Director at Bryan College where she strives to create a gospel-centered community among the girls who live around her, and also stays up way past her bedtime. She enjoys being outside with her little family, learning photography, writing, and learning more about her Savior. You can follow her on Instagram, too.