Elevated Sight: Spiritual-Secular Life Dichotomy and the Nigerian Christian, By Frederick Adetiba

Fred Adetiba

I have been trying to find justification for the double life the average christian in Nigeria possesses.

This duality is the dichotomy between spiritual and secular life. This double life has given rise to dual personality which may not be open to psychological explanation as such. Probably, a sociological analysis may attempt to provide some insight, which may also not be sufficient.

Away from the possibility of academic explanation to understanding of our subject of focus today. The dual life is an idea or a mind set held by most believers that their spiritual life is different from their secular life.

They therefore inadvertently define spiritual life as all the activities that take place in and around their church-life. The secular life on the other hand is defined as every other engagements that fall outside the ‘church’ activities, such as job, career, business transactions, leisure etc.

The implication of this is that the Mr. Lagbaja who is in a church service on Sunday and other midweek services is not the same person you encounter on the street and at work place. In reality, it is the same person, but different personalities, temperament and lifestyle. The different personalities are activated depending on whether the person is in a church environment or not.

This dichotomy is mainly defined as church life (spiritual) and work life (secular). This mindset tells you to put on your religious thinking cap when in church, and a different cap when engaged in seemingly non-spiritual activities.

The implication of this is the situation where the ‘christian’ conduct his/her business and work life same as the non-believer. This is done with the excuse that if you must succeed in the world you must be like them, whereas the scripture makes it clear that we are not of the world (John 17:14-16), and we must not seek to be like them.

We belong to a different civilization, where things are done differently. If the reality of this different civilization is not real to you outside your religious activities, then you belong to world, without knowing it. You cannot be on the fence in this. If you are neither cold nor hot, then you will not make it (Rev 3:15-16). This duality of life is one of the many lies of the devil that have crept into the church, which many believers have bought into.

Their excuse is usually that you cannot succeed if you don’t play dirty like them.

To succeed in business you must think like the average greedy businessman.

To be rich as a civil servant, you must take bribe to do what the government is already paying you to do.

To win elections, you play dirty like your opponents.

This is one of the reasons why there is no marked difference between the believer and unbeliever. It is the reason why we have so many churches and pastors and yet our society is still ridden with corruption and injustice. Another implication of this dichotomy is that the church cannot make any meaningful impact in the society.

That which is popular in christendom does not have the capacity to make the believer stand out and live differently from unbelievers.

Imagine 50% of believers adhering to the word of God and the standard of the Kingdom; the darkness in our society would not have been so gross. The folks shouting halleluyah on Sunday morning are the same that would collect bribe to sign a contract or support a bill, lie blatantly for that extra cash, use their position of authority to intimidate others, stand in defense of corruption because they benefit directly from it, cheat during exams, etc.

They are the same folks in the police force, civil service, national assembly, judiciary, presidency etc.

That is not the design of God but that of the devil who has always been in the business of influencing man to disobey God in order to prevent him from coming into the fullness of life God intended.

In God’s agenda, there is no separation between secular and spiritual life. It is the same life. A world that is devoid of kingdom principles and values, God expects our interaction with it to provide light that should show people the way to Him.

“You are the light of the world. A city set upon a hill cannot be hidden” – Matthew 5:14. Being the light is not in terms of material possession, but living the superior lifestyle of the Kingdom.

The dichotomy also makes Christians dysfunctional in respect to God’s eternal plans.

There are so many things God wants to show the world through us. He wants to show the world His eternal plan and purpose for humanity; to display His manifold wisdom; to be light in the midst of darkness; to show the marked the difference and superiority of the kingdom lifestyle over that of this world. It is not to compete with the world, and try to beat them in their own game.

Separating the spiritual life from the secular has simply caused many to be swallowed up by the world system, some without realizing it.

Follow Frederick on Twitter @fredor4c


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  • Innocent

    Thank God there are still Christians in this country, and I am not alone. I have stopped going to church for over one year because of this situation, Frederick. I think the church is taking me away from God rather than bring me close to him. Worshippers have turned to scavengers in search of wealth at all cost. There isn’t any difference between Christians of nowadays and “the world” Most Christians have long forgotten HEAVEN and are chasing after wealth on earth. It saddens my heart that most pastors abandon the 10 commandments for financially benefiting scriptures. For me, you can make money without being a Christian. Christianity is about living a good – righteous – life on earth as a prerequisite to heaven after death.

  • 100%Naija

    Excellent piece. To add to your points, the major difference is the expression of religion vs faith.

  • pecky

    It gladens my heart to know that young minds like you and I can still come out with such truths as this. It hurts to know that what we have now in the body of christ is just a set of conventional church goers.