If you listen to commercials or read print ads, you’ve probably run into the word “mundane” a few hundred times or more. You may have even used it from time to time in everyday conversations. And why shouldn’t you? It’s a perfectly good word for describing the ho-hum, humdrum, habitual lives that we hate to live. Or is it? I think that somewhere in the modern consumption of the word, we have also managed to swallow a lie. And not just any run of the mill, garden variety lie, but a lie big enough to turn the tables and swallow us as well. A lie that, were things seen as they truly are, would be properly described as mundane.
The word mundane comes from the Latin word mundis, and means of the world or earthly and by implication, it has come to mean boring, banal, and unexciting. And that’s significant, because mundane has another meaning as well, one that backtracks a bit and unwinds itself, a meaning that in some ways, diminishes the borders of the word, and in other ways, sets it up as a ruler over an incredibly populous kingdom. Intrigued? The word mundane means of the world, and before you say, “you just said that”, let me explain that it means of the world in the sense that it does not mean, of heaven.
Mundane is a border word. It is half of a dichotomy. It is a line drawn through the middle of our minds. It is a firmament. It is a kingdom. And like all great kingdoms, it does not allow dual-citizenship. Nor does its counterpart, for Heaven is the other kingdom, the other country that borders the mundane, the demesne whose edges begin where mundanity leaves off. And it is concerning the nature of this border that the lie consists.
You have heard the phrase, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, and if you are like me, you have believed it. You have more than likely also believed by implication, that mundanity is in the heart of the partaker. That what one man loves, another hates; what one finds joyous, another finds dull and uninteresting; what one says is glorious, another says that it has no glory in it at all. And while this seems true to our relativistic minds, it is ultimately a lie.
Heaven is like light and the mundane, like darkness, in that just as light does not begin where darkness fails, but quite the other way around, so does Heaven draw out the borders of its kingdom and then gives to mundanity what terrain it has refused. Don’t be fooled though, this doesn’t make the borders of the mundane any less real. Or to be more specific, when we declare what we find to be mundane or heavenly, we are not, as we are tempted to think, changing the borders of those great kingdoms, but we are instead, declaring where it is we dwell.
We see this sort of thinking throughout Scripture, here for instance:
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
(1 John 1:6-10)
And the mundane deception is no different. It is about the misidentification of the earthly with the heavenly. It is calling evil, good and it is what we begin to do when we grow weary in well doing. It is what C. S. Lewis spent so much time writing about. It is, I think, worth thinking about.
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
(1 Corinthians 15:45-50)