Christ Lives Outside the Church, Too
Trying to get sleepy the other night, I turned on the T.V. and happened in on a religious program — a years-ago interview with Francis Schaeffer. Among other things, Mr. Schaeffer said that we confine spirituality strictly to church and religion — to a low percentage of our living. The rest of our existence is considered completely secular. He felt that spirituality should also encompass art, music, medicine, economics, education, and even politics. This is what I strongly believe, too!
More often than I like, I am asked these days, "How does it feel to be retired?" I get the feeling that people are inquiring about the nature of life in a lobotomized limbo. To people of faith who ask, I want to answer, "Would you believe it — I have discovered there is real life outside the church?
The dichotomy between life in the church and life outside it is pervasive. It is as though real commitment, stewardship, spiritual devotion, or sacrificial service have only to do with church and the specifically religious domain. Of course we should be nice to others, keep our noses clean, and not tell any lies. But what we also need to name as Christian is the significance of living every day, being responsive and responsible in the daily round, caring for the good earth and the people in it, and identifying Christ in the common and grubby. Paul reminded us, in Colossians 1, that the whole creation, visible and invisible, portrays the icon of Christ.. That is, if we have eyes to see. "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Isn't that astounding?
I thought about this when we brought our youngest daughter [Ingrid, Summa Cum Laude, NPC, 1990 — Ed.] down to Texas A&M University to begin her graduate work in Civil Engineering. One of the professors we met, Dr, Dale Webb, insisted on showing us the new research project they were doing for NASA. I have to admit that much of what he said went over my head. But then he took us aside to tell us what this university requires in both graduate students and research projects. The thing they look for first and foremost in a student is integrity. Without that, research isn't worth doing. Then he said that they will not undertake a research program unless, in studying it thoroughly, they can actually see how it will benefit people, the human welfare. There it was — truth and non-possessive love. Christ incognito.
The late Joseph Sittler struck the jugular when he said: "Every chink of human existence is Christocentric."