“I am God, the God of your father,” the voice said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down to Egypt, and I will bring you back again. You will die in Egypt, but Joseph will be with you to close your eyes.” (Genesis 46:3-4)
Relate: I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.
This quote came as part of a reply from President Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists Association. They had written him fearing that the newly framed Constitution did not prevent government from “assuming the prerogative of Jehovah and make laws to govern the Kingdom of Christ.” Basically they feared there was nothing to prevent from government from regulating church affairs. Thomas assured that such fears were unfounded.
From Jefferson’s letter was pulled that now famous phrase “separation of Church and State”. The average American would be shocked that it is not actually part of the Constitution of Bill of Rights and even more shocked that it did not originally mean what it does today. Our modern understanding of Jefferson’s famous phrase would better be understood as “Segregation of Church from State”. This modern concept is not Constitutional, accurate, or even good.
React: Going far beyond TJ’s original intent, Separation of Church and State has now come to pervade every aspect of our lives. We have created an artificial divide in our world and called one side “sacred” and the other “secular”. This idea of separation has infiltrated everything and is the driving force behind the commonly command to keep it quiet. “Your religion is all fine and good but keep it out of this workplace, school, or… whatever”.
There was no word in Biblical Hebrew for “secular”. The closest you can come is מִצְרַיִם (Mizraim). The word literally means “Egypt” but in some contexts could mean “the rest of the world” as in “everything that is not Israel/Judah”. With this in mind, God’s command to Israel (Jacob) takes on a whole new perspective: “I am God, the God of your father… Do not be afraid to go down into the world, for there I will make your family into a great nation. I will go with you down into the world, and I will bring you back again.”
Like Jacob, we need to push past our fears, gird up our loins, and head into the world. We need to get out of our segregated Christian subculture. We need to meet those that do not yet know Christ where they are at, speaking their language, showing them love, and introduce them to the King. We need to get rid of this evil dichotomy of secular and sacred. Everything is sacred. Everywhere is sacred. It is time to stop separating the church from the world.
God, help me to recognize that I take You everywhere I go and that everywhere we go is holy because You are there. There is no such thing as secular. Let me go with You into my workplace. Let me go with You to my neighbors. Let me go with You everywhere my writing would take me. In everything I do, with everything I say, let me be bringing glory to You and let me be about the advancing of Your all encompassing Kingdom.