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Separating the sacred and the secular in life
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"For I am your servant; therefore give me common sense to apply your rules to everything I do" (Psalm 119:125, The Living Bible).

There is in Christendom today an appalling tendency to separate the sacred from the secular. What I mean by that is there seems to be a breakdown of communication between what we profess to believe and how we live.

Years ago there was a popular Christian song entitled "Evidence." The basic thought in that song was expressed in these words, "If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?"

According to a recent Barna poll the vast majority of professed believers would have to answer that question "No." That is not my opinion; it is the finding of both the Barna poll and Prison Fellowship which report that a mere 4 percent of Western Christians today possess a Christian world view. What does that mean? Put simply, 96 percent of professed Christians do not apply in any way shape or form Biblical truth to their lives in any practical way.

We have in our generation, a general disconnect between many people's faith and life. The result of this disconnect in the lives of individual believers is that the church has become disconnected from society. Those outside the church feel that the church is irrelevant. Why? Because what we say is generally not supported by how we act.

This disparity in the church is caused by the 96 percent of members who give lip service to the Lord of the church but who never bridge the gap from policy to practice. They see church as their spiritual duty, but what they hear and do on Sunday morning stays within the brick and mortar structure of the church. Their general attitude seems to be (to play off the theme of Las Vegas) "what happens in church stays in church."

Not only doesn't this 96% percent apply God's truth in any practical way in their lives ,they really have no desire to apply it to their daily lives. For them Christianity is viewed as a hedge against the chance that there might really be an eternity; that there might really be a heaven and a hell. This 96 percent treat their faith like the spare tire in the trunks of their cars: they know it is there for an emergency, but they hope they will never have to use it.

 Look again at Psalm 119:125, "for I am your servant; therefore give me common sense to apply your rules to everything I do." Here's what I know for certain: God's rules are for our good. The Bible says, "For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11, The Living Bible).

Being a typical male, when I get some new electronic device, my tendency is to get only what I need to get from the manual so I can get started using the device. Sometimes that practice has resulted in my ruining the device. You'd think I would learn from that experience, but I persist in my impatient behavior when it comes to such devices. Most of the time I don't ruin the device, but I will say that I greatly under-use each device because I never take time to discover its full potential, settling instead for the basic functions I need.

I think we have a similar approach when it comes to God's Word. We either neglect the instructions all together or we second guess him, or we may try to bend his rules to suit our own desires. When all is said and done, his rules will stand and we will eventually discover the painful reality that comes from breaking them. Certainly we suffer the malady of never getting the full benefit of living our lives according to God's instructions.

Rather then asking, "God how can I skate by" we should be praying, "God give me the wisdom, insight, desire and faith I need to apply your word every day to my every day life."

Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church. Write him in care of the church at 11677 Brown Bridge Road Covington, GA, 30016. Send e-mail to