Children of Two Worlds… Or is it One World?
I was on two phone calls before 9am this morning – in the midst of cutting carrots, packing bags, and prepping children & family for the day.
One call was an invitation to contribute to a prayer meeting this coming Monday night.
They were both extremely different calls, but to me they flowed together easily, one after the other.
The prayer project
The prayer night is a nationwide Zoom gathering where folks from around Aotearoa get together each week to pray for specific locations. I was speaking with Colin, who has been a champion for connecting churches and people across denominational lines in a number of places in our country.
The underlying aim of a prayer meeting is to get together and participate in bringing a little of heaven to earth. That’s a way of casting vision for things like strengthened relationships, torn-down barriers, and the goodness of God’s love. Prayer is about bringing people together before God and turning attention outward to the world around us.
The music project
The music project was a Dunedin/NZ rewrite of Billy Joel’s iconic “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. Callum & P are the local breakfast hosts for the radio station The Hits, and when I heard them writing lyrics on air one morning, I offered to pull some musicians together to record it.
The underlying aim behind a breakfast radio show is that people want to connect and that, even if it’s just for 15 minutes on the way to work or school, a little music, and some interaction with those in your own city can lift the spirits and make a difference.
That’s what we tried to capture with the song too. It was a community-led project, including listener contributions for lyrics, local musicians, multiple vocalists, and a fast turn around. The goal was to capture something that could add a little joy to daily life and bring people together in the process.
Making helpful distinctions
I started by calling this “children of two worlds” because I was thinking how interesting those two different phone calls were. A prayer meeting and a radio show.
Some of the language we Jesus followers use does have that “two worlds” idea, talking about earth and heaven and emphasing the distinction between the realms. And it is true and helpful to understand the difference – we are called to be children of two worlds, engaging well with the people and culture of our local place, while letting our lives be shaped by God.
I think that both of those ideas need nurture and development in each of our lives.
Living an integrated life
But is it really two worlds that we are called to inhabit?
Without overly blurring some important distinctions, I think it is good to push our limits when imagining how far we might be able to go at living out an integration between these two worlds.
An integration between heaven and earth.
An integration between God and people.
An integration between spirituality and music.
An integration between a prayer meeting and a radio show.
I suppose that, after all, this is what the message of Jesus really means.
God came among us.
God put skin-in-the-game, so to speak, so that we could see the message of salvation lived out among us, in a person.
This really is a main feature of the Christian message: heaven did in fact come to earth. Jesus of Nazareth was the one in whom it happened.
And that was just the beginning.
An undivided life
I think that, for my own life, I try to live in a way that honours God and honours other people. I want to let God’s kingdom shape my imagination of what this world could become, and I don’t want to get stuck in a little Christian bubble.
I loved working on this music project with Callum & P and taking the chance to connect and collaborate with other creative people to make it happen.
I’m looking forward to this upcoming prayer meeting and I can’t wait to see what happensas we connect and pray on the night.
Sometimes I feel like I am in a funny place, as a musician and a pastor both, straddling the boundaries between church and culture, and well aware of the immense tension betwen the two. If you’ve walked the Christian life, you’ll definately know what it’s like.
Sometimes I’m almost tempted to live a split life, as thought I’m suppose to pray to connect with God and do more useful stuff to connect with people.
But why the divide?
Jesus lived an undivided life. He was the very definition of not splitting sacred and secular. He was a man of earth and a child of heaven.
I wonder what it looks like for you to live an undivided life?
What would it look like to flip the script on how you think about things?
Prayer and music… coming together as one?
For me, I wonder if it could be something like this: What if my prayer life was for people, and my “active” life was for God? (Just being imaginative.)
What if, for you, the “churchy” or “religious” things that you do are actually gifts that would bless those around you?
What if the “worldly” things or activities you do might actually be opportunities for worship, way to show your love for God?
To take the integration a step further, what if it’s all for God AND it’s all for people?
These are just some of my morning musings as I think about what it means for us to live well.
I wonder how far you might be able to go at seeking a deeper integration between the life of the Spirit and the life of the world.
Blessings to you on the journey!