B.M. Axiom # 5: “All of Life Is Worship”
Many miles ago, I somewhat lost the distinction in DCE ministry of the “sacred” and the “secular.” I mean no disrespect in this statement, nor do I posit a lack of theological education in saying it. What I mean is, practically speaking in the lives of teenagers and other persons with whom we work, the employment of such a distinction can often create categories leading to excuses. Perhaps more helpful to laity lives is the concept that all of life is worship.
No departmentalization. No saying, “This is my church world, and this is my school world.” No saying, “Here’s where my faith works, and here’s where the rest of my life works.” No demarcations of, “This is sacred and this is secular.” To understand that all of life is worship is to strive for a personal blending of David’s thoughts, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” with Paul’s guidance, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” It means integration of the secular and the sacred in all phases of all our lives.
These are mature thoughts, to be sure. Especially within the turbulence of the developmental process within a teenager. Or, within any of us, in each of our varied stages of development with our relationships, careers, marriages, finances, mentoring, parenting, health issues, and aging.
But, to understand all of life is worship is to understand that you are free. It means you can go anywhere. You can do anything. You can give liturgical and life span thanks “at all times and in all places.” You need fear nothing. In the extreme, I believe a Christian person could figuratively or literally walk into hell and stand face-to-face with Satan, in the knowledge that he could do nothing more than destroy you, and in full confidence that Jesus Christ would take care of it from there.
And so, across the miles and years, I have felt free in my ministry to use the resources from publishing houses other than that of our own church body. My education has taught me the proper use of Law and Gospel, and I have a working knowledge of the Lutheran Confessions which equips me to make or teach whatever adjustments necessary to utilize an otherwise good resource. I use newspapers, magazines, video clips or entire first run movies, layered upon Scripture, to teach the love of God in Christ Jesus. Secular or sacred labels do not bind me. I didn’t ban or burn the Harry Potter books, but instead used the opportunity to teach about literature, discernment, Scripture, and the occult. Much of a teenager’s life is wrapped around music. Don’t be afraid of it! Listen to the feelings and worldviews portrayed in songs, both Christian and secular, then bring Scripture to these contemporary poems to show kids that the Bible speaks to the same feelings and societal perspectives as found in today’s music. Don’t be jealous of the non-denominational youth group across town or the big event put on by a non-Lutheran Christian college, but instead, consider them as resources to give your kids experiences with testimonials, emerging church worship, different understandings of the sacraments, or altar-calls. Take them, then talk about it. Understand that all of life is worship, not just Lutheran life.
There’s nothing unique about me. Most of you have had training similar to mine, and many have had experiences past mine. But, when you see that all of life is worship, the potential resources for your ministry become almost boundless and the invaluable links between faith and life can be made in the hearts of those around you.
Remember, all of life is worship.
(A simple but thoughtful devotional book, utilizing the “all of life is worship” concept, is: Jesus in Blue Jeans, A Practical Guide to Everyday Spirituality, by Laurie Beth Jones. Hyperion, 1997.)