What Is Secular Work?

When I was a young Christian, I used the term “secular” when referring to a non-ministry work.

After I learned about the philosophical error of dualism, I began putting the word secular in quotation marks when referring to non-ministry work.

After the prior post, I decided it was time to address the concept head-on and make a conscious decision to stop promoting dualism in the discussion of work by use of words that were birthed out of dualistic thought. And that brings us to the question, “What is secular work?”

The typical distinction people make between secular and sacred work arise out the dualistic misconception that spirit is good and matter is bad. I’ve written on dualism here before in a broader context, and I’ve written about how accepting dualism as a presupposition makes Christians ineffective in the world. In short, the premise upon which dualism is based is faulty. For God so loved the world (matter) He gave His Son. John 3:16. God created the heavens and the earth(matter), and it was not only good, but very good. See Genesis 1:31. Most importantly, Jesus took on human flesh (matter) in the incarnation. On the flip side, not all things spiritual are good. Demons, for example, are corrupt spiritual beings.

That leads us then to the issue of secular versus sacred work. If the dualistic foundation on which the secular versus sacred work distinction rests is faulty, so is the distinction itself. The only secular work is work done by secular people. The job of pastor can be secular work if it is done by a person who does not know Jesus. The work of a custodian can be Christian work if performed by a Christian to the glory of God. Work is secular or sacred based on who performs and for whom it is performed. Therefore, there are no jobs that are secular per se.  

Instead, work is either legitimate or illegitimate. Illegitimate work is work that has an illegtimate (sinful) purpose, and therefore, is contrary to God’s will and cross-purposes with His Kingdom. Prostitution, counterfeiting, and drug dealing are some examples of illegitimate work. They serve no legitimate purpose in God’s management of the planet or the expansion of His kingdom.

All work that is not illegitimate, is legitimate, and all legitimate work has the potential to serve the purpose of the kingdom of God by being a means by which the planet is managed for King Jesus or His kingdom is advanced on the earth. GS