I was given this book years ago as a Christmas gift. I never could get into it, though I tried a time or two. Now, years later I read the book and find myself blown away by Tozer’s clarity, simplicity and truth. Tozer was a man who was not taught by human
philosophers or theologians. Rather, he was a self-taught theologian who relied totally upon the Holy Spirit for wisdom in understanding Scripture and the author of Scripture. This book has ten chapters, but none are more significant to me at this point than the final chapter, “The Sacrament of Living.”
Chapter ten dealt with the false dichotomy of the sacred/secular divide in many Christians’ thoughts and lives. What exactly is this false dichotomy? It is the belief that there is such a thing as a secular part of life as well as a sacred part of life. Tozer does an excellent job showing how this idea finds absolutely no support in Scripture. In other words, if you are going to argue your job as a shoe-maker, tennis coach or any other “non-ministerial” job is divorced from the sacred, you must not use Scripture to support your idea. I wish I had bibliographic information for my next statement, but I do not. Martin Luther was asked by a shoe-maker who had recently been converted to Christ what he should do with his life. Should he go and study so as to prepare for the pulpit? Should he leave his land and go to an unknown region and preach the gospel? You know, should he do something sacred and leave his meaningless, secular job at home? Luther’s reply, “Make the best shoes you can, and sell them at a fair price.” What?!
That’s correct. Paul tells the Corinthians to “remain in the situation they were in when God called them” (1 Cor. 7:20). In other words, if you were called to Christ and were a teacher, don’t leave the classroom. I’ve often looked over the fence to the incredibly greener grass of full-time vocational ministry. When I have looked over and considered hopping the fence, the Lord has made it unmistakably clear to me that I am to remain where he placed me. Why? Because my job in education and athletics, when done for the glory of Christ, the making of disciples and the ushering of His kingdom, is sacred. It doesn’t matter if I’m grading papers or teaching kids how to attach a 1-3-1 zone. If it crystal clear to myself and those around me that I’m working not for my own good, or even the good of the community (primarily), but for the glory of Christ, I’m in sacred employment. This is hard to grasp for us, isn’t it? But we must grasp it, because it is biblical.
Tozer gives examples in this chapter from the life of Christ. When Jesus came to earth, he did so in a body. This body was human. He ate, slept, laughed, cried and experienced many other human realities (except one, sin!). For the majority of his life, he lived in a small town working as a carpenter. He walked with twelve disciples, ate with sinners, touched lepers, and healed other diseases. Jesus didn’t live in the temple giving biblical lectures and sermons continuously. Whether he was having supper with tax collectors, or talking with a woman at the well, every moment was sacred because every moment Jesus was focused on the Father’s glory and His kingdom. That is what my vocation should look like.
So, if everything is sacred, does that mean everything is equally important? No. But, everything is equally holy! This is Tozer at his best. He writes, “Paul’s sewing tents was not equal to his writing of an Epistle to the Romans, but both were equally accepted of God and both were true acts of worship. Certainly it is more important to lead a soul to Christ than to plant a garden, but the planting of the garden can be as holy an act as the winning of a soul.” (Underline added, original emphasis was in italics; 2006:120) What you do, assuming it is not sinful and contrary to God’s character, can be as holy as leading a soul to Jesus. Wow! That is what it means to do everything for the glory of Jesus (1 Cor. 10:31)
Allow me to close with Tozer’s final thoughts on “The Sacrament of Living”. Again, Tozer is fantastic. He writes, “It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything. Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart and he can thereafter do no common act.” (2006:121)