Making the Secular Sacred

mowingIn the Church in the time of Martin Luther, there was a stark division between the sacred and the secular. Only the priest could do the “holy” things. The laity went about their tasks disconnected from any tie to their faith.

But Martin Luther brought the sacred and the secular back together. He pointed out that the tasks of the laity were just a holy as the tasks of the priests and reintroduced the concept of the priesthood of all believers.

Luther wrote:

…the works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ on whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks…all works are measured before God by faith alone. (The Babylonian Captivity of the Church).

Dr. Erik Hermann in his “Reformation Reverberations: The Lasting Impact of Martin Luther’s Reforms” presentation at Concordia Seminary-St. Louis, referred to this the sacralization of the secular.

In many ways this concept led in large part to the Protestant work ethic. The most menial tasks in our everyday lives (like sweeping the floor) became just as important as preparing Holy Communion because all work is done in the name of the Lord and is done to his glory.

So doing the mundane duties of our daily lives well is a kind of worship and thanksgiving to God for the abilities and the opportunities he has given us to do for him.

The Bible tells us,

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

We need this reminder every now and then when we feel we are being saddled with the jobs that are not as flashy or interesting or highly regarded. It all is a chance to draw closer in our relationship to God and to serve as Christ served in often unflashy ways (washing feet comes to mind).

So get out and mow the lawn and and go out and dust the furniture. You are doing sacred work in the process.


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