Where is God in Secular Society?
God's presence in all things.
“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.”
(Psalm 139:7-10 NIV)
God is everywhere. His presence infuses the whole of creation; the ‘secular’ perpetually permeated by the sacred. The challenge for contemporary Christians is therefore to simply recognise what is right before our eyes: God’s imprint upon society.
"When we are limited to believing in only our finite theology of God, we limit our personal experience of Him."
To do this we must develop a respect for mystery. Mystery has previously been assassinated by our modern, rationalist way of thinking. This has left us scarred and debilitated Christians, unable to believe in those things we cannot understand, that are beyond our comprehension. However, the Bible specifically commands us to “...lean not on [our] own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5 NIV) With the rediscovery of ‘mystery’ we can now believe in God and not only what we believe about God. This shift should not be underestimated. When we are limited to believing in only our ﬁnite theology of God, we limit our personal experience of Him, as God may reveal Himself in ways that transcend our doctrines and dogmas – that which we believe and understand.
“Embracing mystery does not negate faith, it strengthens it, reigniting in us a burning love for Jesus.”
The rediscovery of mystery not only liberates us to have fresh encounters with God, but it also frees us to interact with secular society wherever we now recognise God is at work, desiring to establish His Kingdom. The prayer, ‘Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven’ presupposes that we are able to recognise both what our Father’s will is and where He is active in the world. I’ve heard fellow believers say, ‘If I can’t understand it, I won’t believe it.’ But the very essence of faith is belief in God when we do not, or cannot, understand Him. Embracing mystery does not negate faith, it strengthens it, reigniting in us a burning love for Jesus.
"A view of the world as purely secular denies us the ability to recognise the sacred, intrinsic value in what we see around us."
Our generation is marked by the recognition that the sacred and secular are intertwined and inseparable. Material and spiritual things have become integrated. A view of the world as purely secular denies us the ability to recognise the sacred, intrinsic value in what we see around us. Whether we are looking at a person or creation itself, rediscovering God’s sacred presence in all things, is simply the recognition of their true (and often hidden) value. So then, looking for the sacred within our ‘secular’ world offers creation and life the chance to regain their true purpose. This deeply affects all of life. It is in this rediscovery of the sanctity of all things that we can place our hope for renewal.
The ‘secular’ is perpetually permeated by the sacred - the Psalmists declares,‘Where can I go from Your Spirit? … our challenge now is simply to recognise this. Where is God present and at work in the world around you?