Sacred and Profane

Arvo Pärt is a modern composer whose choral works include “I Am the True Vine” and “The Woman with the Alabaster Box.” In a review in The Guardian, Tom Service said the success of Pärt’s work was due to more than style and the use of familiar chords: “Pärt told me that what he wants his music to express is ‘love for every note’, and in turn, communicate the spiritual power that he sees as music’s essential purpose. Pärt is too modest to say that he has achieved that, but for the listeners who love his music, it’s an irrefutable truth.” The success of Pärt’s work reflects a hunger for the sacred in a world that too often delights mostly in the profane.

David learned the difference between the sacred and the profane the hard way when his first attempt to move the ark to Jerusalem ended in tragedy (see July 15). But David learned his lesson. On his second try David made certain that biblical guidelines for transporting the ark were followed (v. 2). No one but the Levites would be permitted to touch the ark. David also explained why their first effort had failed so badly: “It was because you, the Levites, did not bring it up the first time that the Lord our God broke out in anger against us. We did not inquire of him about how to do it in the prescribed way” (v. 13).

The church’s worship is not subject to the same restrictions associated with the ark of the covenant. But this does not mean that we should ignore the difference between sacred and secular. In our case this difference is reflected in lifestyle. Those who belong to Christ should stand out because their lives are marked by holiness.

Apply the Word

In 2 Corinthians 7:1, the apostle Paul urges us to “purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” Ask the Lord to examine you and convict you where your life is profane and encourage you where it is sacred and bringing glory to Him.

BY John Koessler, Chair and Professor of Pastoral Studies

John Koessler serves as chair and professor in the division of applied theology and church ministry at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is married to Jane and has two sons, Drew and Jarred. John is the author of The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody) and True Discipleship (Moody). John has written several other books and articles and serves as a contributing editor for Today in the Word.

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