Thursday, March 24, 2011

In the Refiner's Fire - God is There

Last night's Lenten sermon was exactly what I needed to hear.

I have been struggling with my faith for several years now and in that last six months or so, I've realized that I really am very, very Lutheran.

You see, the Lutheran faith has something that most other denominations of the Christian church don't have - the idea that secular and sacred intermingle and that we are simultaneously sinner and saint in one.  The idea that our salvation is handed to us by God regardless of what we do to 'deserve' it is the main pin of this philosophy.

I can't do enough to earn my salvation, no matter what I do, and I am despirately in need of God's grace and forgiveness because I am far too sinful a person.  This is where Jesus dying on the cross comes in - He is the final sacrifice for my sin, I don't have to do a thing but believe.  The "good works" piece enters in in allowing God in Christ to work through me - the good works are truly His, not mine.

So often we get caught up in what is "Christian" and what is not. 

I listen to "Christian" music, so I must be a better "Christian" than someone who listens to "secular" music.
I haven't been divorced, so I must be a better "Christian" than someone who has been divorced.
I only do business with "Christians", so I must be a better "Christian" than someone who does business with anyone.
I don't wear mini-skirts, so I must be a better "Christian" than someone who doesn't.
I work for a "Christian" business, so I must be a better "Christian" than someone who works in the "secular" world.

I have seen "Christian" products that belittle and demean. 
I have seen "Christian" businesses with shady business practices and inflated prices. 
I have seen " Christians" wearing clothes that meet the letter for "modest" (skirts, ankle length, not elbows or collar bones) but were so tight that they left nothing to the imagination (and I was surprised that they weren't splitting seams left and right). 

I have also seen "secular" products that uplift and edify.
I have also seen "secular" businesses with impecible business practices and excellent prices.
I have also heard "secular" music that edifies and asks difficult and important questions, making the listener think about others and their needs.

The sermon last night asked us to think of the following:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

If something is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy, God is there.
No matter if the label given to it is "Christian" or "secular".

And sometimes the secular can bring someone into the realm of the sacred. 

And isn't that more important than the label we give something?

Something to think about anyway.

Soli Deo Glora.
Always.

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Lea