In the Wor[l]d
Something I've just recently realized on a deeper level is that it's not a sin to be in the world. We're called to be in the world. We're also called not to be of the world.
I grew up wearing dresses to church, singing some of the newer Christian songs like "Shout to the Lord" and "Thy Word" while tentatively fingering the seat back in front of me. In my middle school years I attended a great Christian camp, Christian music festivals, and hung out with friends from my church. As high school rolled around I still hung out with my old friends but started branching out a bit and realizing there is a lot more to this world than meets the eye on a given Sunday morning.
Friends started opening up to me, friends that didn't have the luxury of a God-focused family like I did. The hot topics of high school arose in our conversations: parties, drugs, date rape, under-age/over-drinking, and abuse. But these conversations weren't something created by learned minds deep in the study of our culture. They were born out of personal relation to these topics and I happened to be the person these people came to.
I counted it a privilege and a huge responsibility to be considered trustworthy of these friends' struggles.
And I began to realize in having these conversations that the more my friends trusted me the more honest and the more real these conversations got. Rather than listen to them always apologizing to me for crude language that came off their lips, they began to just talk to me about their lives using good words, bad words, and all.
One day the conversations weren't separate from my personal bubble of reality anymore. I came to the realization that I am indeed part of the world and there is a very fine line between being in it and being of it. But more than this line, a battle rages and there is nothing that separates us from it.
"There is a battle between good and evil that we cannot see. But we intercept it. We engage it. We influence it."
This is the spiritual battle between good and evil, and it is because of this battle that the "sacred and secular" collide.
However, in all of my brief 20 years of being in this world, I've realized at least one thing I consider to be of some importance. That realization is that there is no divide. We don't have the luxury of choosing a world to live in. Whether we want the "sacred" world of religion or the "secular" world of our culture, the only choice we have in the matter is which side to fight for.
"Do not fight against the LORD, the God of your ancestors, for you will not succeed."
This verse has been taped under my window for several years, and it's something I choose to act on. Awhile back I chose to fight on God's side of this battle and while the earthly battles still rage I know the ultimate war is won.
But until I get to experience eternal victory I reside here, on earth, in the United States of America in the state of Michigan. I am in the world. Very, very much so. And that is not a sin.
Listening to a friend talk about their addiction, walking through a city and hearing the name of the God I love abused over and over and over again is not a sin. The sin is participating in it. The sin lies in acting on temptation and giving in to the addiction, belittling the name of God to those around us, engaging in the very negative acts Jesus Christ died to save us from.
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27
Enjoying the bountiful gifts God has given us is not a sin. Abusing our use of these gifts is.
So sure! Sing a hymn and remember the spiritual perseverance of Christians before us. Go to a movie and let your mind be blown by how God created the human mind to work and create. Worship God with dancing -- Psalms literally says to do this!
Don't be afraid to enjoy the gifts of God. He loves to give them to us (Matthew 7) and He loves for us to enjoy them. As Job says, let's live to "enjoy the light of life." We only have so long on this earth God created. If there truly is a "time for everything" then there is a time for enjoying God's creation in a pure way that will not pollute us. Let's start today.