The Reformed reformers (Calvin most notably) recovered the doctrine of the sacredness of the everyday things of life — meaning that all things in God’s creation, though corrupted, still bear witness to his glory. Timothy George, in his very helpful book Theology of the Reformers, speaks of the need to recover the “sanctity of the secular”, saying also that Calvin strongly urged believers to be engaged (and not withdrawn from) the world.
I think Calvin closely aligns himself with the Scriptures here. Now, at this point, I could list a bunch of quotes from Calvin and his interpreters related to this doctrine. I could then tie in Scripture. That would be a fruitful study, something I would like to study more closely at some point. But today my point is more to illustrate an aspect of this doctrine.
Here is how I would say it: Christianity is not monkery. We do not live our faith in a holy cloister of increasing perfection. We live in a fallen world, which yet testifies to the glory of our God.
So, an aspect of this doctrine fleshes out in this conviction: I believe, firmly, that “non-spiritual” things in my life teach me much about God and how I relate to him and his creation (including other people). I want to apply the truth of the Scriptures learned in my study (both from school and personal study/devotion) to the everyday things of life.
Anyone who read this blog (hopefully) realizes that it is important to me to reflect thoughtfully and biblically on specific instances in my own life.
I believe that God’s Word sanctifies us, and that apart from his written Word and the Spirit of Christ within us, seeking holiness is a chasing after the wind. But I also believe that the Spirit uses the Word within the tangible occurrences of life. “Listening” or understanding the Spirit’s point, then, becomes very important.
One profound illustration is that of marriage. Man, during my first semester at SBTS, when I stayed in dorm a lot, and studied a lot, and practiced the spiritual disciplines diligently — then, getting myself sanctified was easy. Obviously, I’m overstating, but during those months, I thought I had grown a lot.
Then I met Laura. And all the same old crap that was wrong with me before came out all over again. Only worse. I have probably grown more in the last year and a half, and learned more about my own sin than I did in years of studying and growing in knowledge. Now, however, I think I’m actually starting to grow more significantly in obedience.
Another recent story illustrates what I’m saying here:
Last night our church’s men’s ministry (for about five minutes it was called ManSchool) had a meeting. The format was something like listen to a message on manhood and then discuss, etc. It started at 8:30 — late (for someone who works at 5:00 a.m.).
Well, I got to house a few minutes early and everyone’s car was already there. Bad sign number one. I walked up to the door, and no one was milling around chatting. Bad sign number two. There wasn’t an answer at the door, so I walked in, finding everyone outside on the patio, listening to the message. Bad sign number three.
Obviously the time had either changed and I hadn’t gotten the memo; or I remembered the wrong time. (It was the second one). At this point, I figured “Screw it,” and home I went.
Honestly, the whole thing frustrated me: first because I thought the time had changed and no one told me. And second because I had messed up the time, and hadn’t been careful to double check.
The Spirit show me something though. He had a plan for me going late, getting frustrated and leaving. He punched me in the gut in a way that I would remember, probably much more than sitting and listening to a message and discussing it.
None of the things the Spirit brought home are new to me. I know that I need work in these areas. But sometimes seeing myself play out my own jacked-up-ness brings it home more than knowing in cognitively only.
I could go on, about so many of the flaws that poked through my thin veneer of thinking I’m more holy than I really am. But, for now, my point is not what I learned, but how I learned it. It’s like life is a classroom. The Spirit is my teacher and the Word is my textbook. I’d do best to learn, and grow toward the image of the Son of holiness.