We like to put things in boxes.
When you think about it, we’ve been doing it since the Garden—one of the first things Adam did was to name everything he saw.
It’s what language is all about; describing everything we can see to those who can’t. It’s communication, distilled down to an essence, an integral part of the human condition.
We name something to contain it, to say to ourselves and others that this thing is that, and it is nothing more than that—and by doing so, we assume authority over it, and are able to accept it as a part of our experience.
But there is an aspect of that that is less positive. We don’t just put other things in boxes; we do it to ourselves as well. We tell ourselves, and others, I am this thing. This is me.
In doing so, we set up an opposition, sometimes knowingly, sometimes not—because if this is me, then everything outside of that box is not. It’s something else, something other. And if that other becomes threatening to that which is us, then that is when fear enters the equation.
We do it all the time.
We set up precise, artificial polar oppositions—between people, between objects, between concepts—and then place them in contention.
- Light versus darkness (as if darkness was a thing in and of itself, and not simply the absence of light).
- Men versus women (when we’re not alien life forms, but partners).
- The sacred versus the secular.
It’s prescriptive, dogmatic. It makes us feel safe, no longer scared, to be able to place the things that we fear into something other, something that is not us.
But that very fact means that the creation of oppositions comes from a place of fear.
God doesn’t come from that place. He doesn’t deal in oppositions—after all, He created everything that there is. To Him, there is no separation between us and them. He is in all things, and there is no other.
When we focus on the oppositions between things, oppositions we have invented, we are not looking upon them with the eyes of the Spirit.
We tend to try to avoid certain situations, to prevent ourselves from being touched by them. As Christians, chasing that Christ-like identity, we identify as sacred. That is us, and the secular is them.
But this is focusing upon the negative, trying not to be something rather than trying to be something.
When we focus on God, rather than the world around us, we naturally find ourselves avoiding the displeasing and the carnal. We are more when we concentrate on being alive to God, rather than dead to self.
There is no ‘sacred versus secular’— there is only life in the Spirit.
God moves through everything that there is, whether it belongs to Him or not. We can see the mark of His hand everywhere we look. It’s the hand that brought the world to be, that boundless creativity that lit a fire in the deep and brought forth light from the darkness.
When we say that some things are sacred, and others secular—when we invent that opposition and bind ourselves to it—we place God within a box, to limit Him to only those places that we wish Him to go.
The love of God has no boundaries. It inspires everything it touches, just as it lit that fire in the deep so long ago. You’ll find His love in the music of agnostics and in the movies of atheists. His inspiration can be seen in art from all cultures, all walks of life.
We need to learn to discover the mark of His hand everywhere we look, to see where His presence has been.
We know it already in nature—the human race has been remarking on the presence of God in the sunset, in the untrammeled beauty of the rainforest, in flowers, in the love between each other, for millennia. Often unremarked upon, it’s the secret subject of poetry, song and story: God’s love, evident around us.
So how do you intend to perceive the touch of God? What steps will you take to get to that place within yourself?
It’s in the endless wonder of the child in Christ—the child who hasn’t learned yet to place things in boxes, to place judgement upon others. We don’t need to live by the world’s rules, carrying baggage and prejudice about with us.
We’ve been delivered of that… but we have to realize that for ourselves.
There is no longer any need for us to condemn, to fear that which is not us.
Look further. Look harder.
Take sudden joy in finding it in the most unexpected of places. In the most surprising of people.
And when you turn to Him in delight to share this secret, to say, “Look!,” see Him wink in reply.