We had a friend who was studying medicine. In commuting between home and school, studying for midterms, and working to fill the gas tank, their week had little wiggle room (did I mention they were studying medicine?). They were having a hard time making it to a weekly small group and shared this struggle with others. Our friend was met with the pressure to “do the bare minimum” and simply get “a passing grade” so as to make it all fit. Once again, there was a split between “the secular and sacred.” School work took the back seat and churchy stuff took the wheel.
Now while I agree that it is wise to evaluate priorities and at times do “the bare minimum” for the sake of sanity, I’m not entirely sure it should be our mantra. Especially if it’s because we see sacred activities (church, Bible studies, fellowship) as more important than secular activities (education, studying, vocation).
If we see the material world as less important than the spiritual world, we neglect our purpose here on earth. One of those purposes being numbers . . science, facts, logic, puzzles, and all the molecules in between.
Hypothetically speaking, if I were to break my femur and need surgery, I would hope my surgeon didn’t half-ass his classes because he was taught that fellowship is more important than getting an “A”. Chances are, I won’t see a surgeon who was taught this because most of the young men and women in our evangelical circles are being taught that ministry is the highest calling, not medicine. So, crisis averted (sorta).
Our concerns shouldn’t be solely focused on what the church needs, our concerns ought to be hugely related to what the world needs. We are to be a blessing to all nations. And the nations need good physicists, chemists, biologists, and engineers. Surgeons, optometrists and architects. We need men and women who stayed up all night cramming for their test and making flash cards for anatomy. We need men and women who can solve mind boggling equations and balance “the books” in their sleep. God designed us in such a way that we can all play a part in the creation mandate. Some of us will build sturdy houses and others will decorate beautiful houses. It’s all part of our place here on earth to create a holistic masterpiece. . . and that might mean you can’t squeeze in just “one more activity” for the sake of the church. Because we are concerned for the sake of people.
Those of us drawn to math and science have an opportunity to point to a God of order, of wisdom, and design. Of logic. How comforting to know that God has placed our earth in orbit. He isn’t flippant about creation. He didn’t just throw our planet into the mix. He is intentional and those of us drawn to the logical side of His universe can serve others through being intentional and orderly themselves. I don’t ever (in a million years) want to file my own taxes. But I do want someone else to file my taxes who is orderly and meticulous. In striving for truth, they are striving for goodness and beauty as well. It just shows itself in numbers instead of colors.
The secular/sacred split breeds both guilt and pride. Our friend above experienced the guilt that comes with daring to invest in something “earthly” but many of us indulge in the pride that comes with spiritual superiority, in disengaging from that which is “earthly” so we might pursue that which is “heavenly.”
But heaven isn’t separate from earth. The kingdom is here (and not yet). It is our job to bring the new earth to fruition while we eagerly await, not destruction but hope. To evoke love, joy, and peace through well made buildings, properly working sprinklers, balanced check books, well made speakers, and administered chemical reactions. Heaven meets earth everyday in the well working engine, the skillful scalpel and the faithful algebra teacher who patiently walked me through it’s
treacherous wonderful truths. We can reconcile the reality of heaven and earth even with a calculator.