Most Americans are familiar with the term “separation of church and state”. This term was used by Thomas Jefferson and others in the First Amendment of the Constitution to protect religious institutions from government imposition on their practices as well as preventing certain faith requirements in order to be a part of government. Unfortunately, that phrase has also contributed to the dualistic mindset that many Christians have today. “Let’s separate church and state and let’s separate our personal faith from our daily lives.” One’s faith or religious life is something that is merely personal between them and God, it usually happens on Sundays or during their morning devotional or Bible study. Work or one’s job on the other hand is what is done to make a living, earn increased social status, secure a financial future and is typically not thought of in conjunction with one’s spiritual life. Such a separation of the material and the physical is a dangerous trap that keeps us from living a fully Christian life and recognizing God’s redemptive power in the world around us each day.
Luis Sena is a leader in the Esperanza-Edify Program in the Dominican Republic. Before working with Esperanza Luis spent over 25 years as a leader at Food For The Hungry and is a strong voice in Christian development that speaks out against dualism. In a recent conversation, Luis spoke profoundly about the need for the reclamation of a unified life where the spiritual and the physical are not separated, a life free of the dualistic mindset. “Transformation doesn’t happen simply with wealth creation, increased skill-sets or increased consumption power, rather it will only happen with a reclamation and discovery of our true identify in Christ and vocation that God has designed.” Part of recognizing the vocation God has designed for us is understanding that God has equally called each of us into a life of service to him. It doesn’t matter if you are a mechanic, janitor, the Dean of Harvard or the Pope, we are to see God’s presence in everything around us. Our role is to be faithful to God and bring him Glory in all that we do. In scriptures we can find the life and calling of the prophet Jeremiah (Chapter 1) as an example of how God values the meek and calls them to service and promises his presence alongside them.
The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
6 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
When speaking with teachers and school directors at the schools we work with one can see that their work as simply a “job”or a “career” is a foreign concept to them. Teaching in the Dominican Republic is not a celebrated profession and what they are paid is fairly dismal. Yet teachers embrace their role of educating children with a love, passion and care that shows they have not simply chosen education as a career path, but they actually consider it a vocation in which they can honor God. Their patience and tireless efforts to love kids is amazing. It is evidence of God working in the world in a way that uses the complete lives of those that the world might dismiss as “too young” or unimportant. We have a lot to learn from teachers here in the way they allow their lives to be fully dedicated towards God in all that they do. Their spiritual lives are not just on Sunday, for Sunday is just the beginning of the week. They begin at 7:30am with the dedication of using all they have to serve God by serving others in all that they do. No matter what our “career” or “profession”, we can listen to the God who is calling all of our life and remember there is no separation between our spiritual lives and the rest of life. Bring God glory by finding His presence in everything and everyone around you each day.