While I was growing up, my mother, a biology teacher, was always very interested in science and chemistry. Though I didn’t share the same enthusiasm for science, there was one element of her study that always fascinated me: a catalyst.
A catalyst is an agent within a scientific experiment that creates a change but is never consumed by the change. It causes a reaction to take place, and then after the reaction, remains exactly the same as it was before. The catalyst is never touched nor affected by the change surrounding it.
“Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight — why the bush does not burn up.’ When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’” — Exodus 3:1-4
Often times it takes a “burning bush” experience to bring us to God. After a supernatural experience or extreme situation, our attention is captured. In Moses’ environment, bushes would burn all the time; that wasn’t what was phenomenal. What was supernatural was the fact that this bush did not become consumed by the flames!
It’s always been God’s intention for us to not only experience a burning bush, but to become a burning bush. God used the catalyst of a burning bush to draw Moses to Him, and that experience then turned Moses into a burning bush himself — pointing others to the Almighty.
In the same way, Jesus calls us to be in the world but not of it. He wants us to engage the secular world without becoming worldly. God didn’t send Jesus Christ to the Church; He sent His Son to the world to save both the people and the systems within it that had fallen. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” God loved the world, just not the things of the world. That’s why He sent a catalyst for change!
Now don’t get me wrong. A lot of people think the word “secular” means sinful or worldly, but it simply refers to things that are not religious. Though secular things do not include religious aspects, that doesn’t mean they are not spiritual. All things can be used for spiritual purposes — sports, education, science, journalism, music. Everything in this world can and will be used by God to bring glory to Him! God wants us to engage the secular world in order to allow them to see the spiritual realm.
In fact, this was Jesus’ last prayer in the Garden:
“I am coming to You now, but I saw these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of My joy within them. I have given them Your Word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one.” — John 17:13-15
When we operate as catalysts in this world, we’re safe from the enemy because with Christ we’re in the world but not of it. Christ didn’t ask God to take us out of the world, but to protect us from the evil one. He asked His Father to make us holy by His truth.
Live as catalysts of change. Stand out in a crowd so that you can point people to the true light of Christ.
— Pastor Ted Winsley, Philadelphia Eagles chaplain