In my last semester of college I found myself being one of those stereotypical seniors in the Gen. Ed. class amongst a sea of freshmen and sophomores. Although I generally dislike history and had my share of wedding planning sessions on TheKnot.com, World Civilizations offered several inspirational tid-bits from its very passionate prof. This one in particular had to do with middle-aged monks.
In the middle ages, there was a social class second only to the monarchy: clergy. This class consisted of monks, priests, nuns, etc. Evidently the Church made a distinction within the cleric: secula and regula clergy. Does the Latin look familiar?
It’s strange enough that they would have a secular clergyman. Secular is how we Christians distinguish Lady Gaga from Chris Tomlin. So the idea of more than regular clergy is odd. Then prof gave us the definitions… Check it out:
“…religious who follow a rule, especially those who have been ordained, form the regular clergy, while those who live in the world are called the secular clergy.” (Encyclopedia Press, 1913)
Woah, woah, wait! They considered this clergy? I thought we’ve gotten less conservative over the centuries, not more so!
I know, I was shocked, too, but in an excited way. Let me explain.
A couple years ago I read a book that has been my most influential read so far next to the Bible. The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons talks about this very issue we Christians seem to have today: a huge divide between what is considered secular and sacred. We’ll focus more specifically on the matter of vocation since we’re discussing clergy. In his book, Lyons describes the mindset of the next generation of Christians:
“The next Christians don’t work at jobs; they serve in vocations…. While some may be called to full-time religious work, they accept that many Christians should simply work to restore the needs right under their noses…. They understand the Gospel and know that God’s desire for restoration applies to every corner of the world, including theirs.” (Lyons, 2010)
You see, we really shouldn’t have a huge divide between “the world” and “Christianity.” We shouldn’t be maintaining a them-us mentality. We should view the secularity of the world as a sacred target for our calling: to go into all the world; not to create Christian bubbles and subcultures.
On Monday, I posted a blog in the Meditation Series called “Out of This World, But Not in It” to challenge thoughts on what is truly behind the Christian slogan, “in the world, but not of it.” The post was based off of Jesus’ prayer to the Father regarding His followers:
“I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do…. Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world.” (John 17:15-16, 18, NLT)
Jesus said it Himself. He doesn’t want us so detached from this world that we don’t know how to communicate the Good News to it. He doesn’t want us so obsessed with our “personal relationship with Jesus” that we forget He died for the world, not just us.
We need to get out there! We don’t have to lose sight of what sanctity is in order to close the divide and transform the secular into sacred secularity.