Sacred Versus Secular
The world must walk the hard road from war to peace. War has been equated with the secular world, filled with technology and tools that we are told
will bring peace. But peace has often been equated with the sacred as a spiritual state of being that recognizes the commonality of life shared by all beings on Earth.
Can we really separate the sacred from the secular in our world today? How would Jesus, the rebel scripture teacher who shook up the entrenched
conventions of ancient Israel, lead people back to peace today?
Jesus United the Sacred and Secular
Jesusí teachings united the sacred and the secular by unifying Jews and gentiles in the common pursuit of freedom from the tyranny of Roman rulers
and from laws that impoverished the souls of ancient people.
His radical teachings equated humanity with divinity, elevating the common beggar to king in the eyes of God. Jesus bucked the conventional wisdom of
ancient times, overturning purity laws that excluded the poor and diseased from religious life. Jesus stepped beyond religion into this secular world, inviting common gentiles and
downtrodden Jews to hear his teachings on compassion.
Jesus taught outside of the temples, using simple parables from everyday life to explain the commonality of human existence. He taught oppressed Jews
and gentiles to love their neighbors as well as their enemies and to share the wealth of their compassion with others.
These timeless teachings were demonstrated on the battlefields of Iraq in 2003. Even in times of war, humanity rises to embrace its own.
American soldiers risked their lives during battle to save an Iraqi woman trapped on a bridge. An Iraqi lawyer bravely led American forces to rescue one of the first
American prisoners of war to be liberated. American soldiers, separated from their unit, gave their food rations to starving Iraqi families. On Palm Sunday, Iraqi
guards released seven American POWs to Marines. These acts of compassion during war transcended religious and national secular boundaries, demonstrating that divinity
exists within humanity despite our differences.
Ancient Israel was a brutal place, but Jesus showed people how to embody peace despite their dire circumstances. In the parable of the good Samaritan,
it was not a holy man who reached out to the wounded traveler and nursed him back to health, but a common man who others despised. Samaritans were reviled, but Jesus equated their
humanity with divinity, overturning old biases.
Living from the Heart of Both Worlds
During his life, Jesus stepped beyond conventional limits to present a code for living from the heart. In this new world, humanity comes first, and
this common bond among people brings sanctity to life. The secular world of conflict becomes sacred when we remember our humanity in even the darkest moments.
The final battles of Iraq were fought during the Easter season of 2003. Easter is celebrated as a time of resurrection. It is time for the world to
rise from the ashes of hatred and conflict to find common ground.
The everyday secular world becomes sacred when you use every experience as an opportunity to remember your inner heart of compassion. You could be in
the midst of bombs exploding or car horns honking or babies cooing, but the experience offers the same outcome: a chance to look within, seeing the divinity in yourself and others,
and letting it guide your every action.
Life is a sacred journey, no matter where the road takes you.
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