Balajied Nongrum is Speaker and Trainer with RZIM Life Focus Society.
Very often, the Christian life, in general, is lived out between two different tight compartments. One is the ‘sacred’ and the other is the ‘secular’, if at all we can call it so. The former is concerned with what one does during Sundays, such as going to Church, etc., whereas the latter has to do with what we do for a living from Monday to Saturday. In closely scrutinising this dichotomy, Dallas Willard points out that, on one hand, many tend to think of Christ as One who merely “forgives and promotes liberation from sin,” thus implying that He is concerned only with our sacred life. On the other hand, Willard adds that “we do not think of Him as relevant to the intellect”, hence we conclude that Jesus cannot contribute anything significant into our work. This dichotomy, in the long run, will have serious ramifications not only in the way that we think, but also in the way that we live as Christians. In other words, as Willard says, it will have “drastic effects on our taking the Great Commission seriously”.[i]
Contrary to what people may think of the times in which Jesus lived (such as “being backward” and hence irrelevant to our context), Willard brings out some salient features about Christ that one ought not to ignore and they are as follows:[ii]
- First, the Bible has enough evidence (Luke 2:47 and 52) that demonstrates the extraordinary power with which Jesus reasoned with everyone and many were ‘amazed’ by it.
- Secondly, all of Jesus’ first century disciples “saw Jesus as the Master and the smartest man”. Furthermore, the Apostle Paul in particular saw Jesus not only as “the creator of all” who had power over all of creation and life but also as One who is the embodiment of all “wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 1 and 2).
- Lastly, Jesus presented Himself as One who was not only there to show them what a good and a “moral life” looks like (Matthew 5) but He revealed Himself as the Master who also had the power to transform life (morally) like no one else.
In light of the above insights by Dallas Willard, it becomes imperative for us to conclude that the above dichotomy between the sacred and secular is anything but false. Since, for a follower of Christ, our whole of life is sacred and anything opposite to it ought not to be secular but profane. As Willard pointed out, we need to respond to Jesus’ invitation to come and learn from Him (Matthew 11:28), thus recognising that Jesus is Lord over all of life including that of our mind or intellect. In doing so, our discipleship will be transformed in the following ways:[iii]
- First, in acknowledging the fact that Jesus is the smartest man, we should be motivated to come to Him not only for salvation but at the same time to learn intellectually from Him about every matter concerning the whole of life.
- Secondly, we should be motivated to live an integrated life to the extent that we should seek to explore ways and means of how we can look at areas of our life including our field of expertise (be it teaching, engineering, business, politics, etc.,) from His perspective or the Christian lens.
- Lastly, we should seek to be continually transformed by the ‘renewing of our mind’ (Romans 12:1-2) so that we can become more like Him in terms of our “inward disposition”.
[i] Willard, Dallas. Debates in the defense of the faith: Jesus: The Smartest Man Who Ever Lived? La Mirada, CA: Biola University. CD-ROM.