Blog - Grasping Vocation
The Largely Untapped Potential of the WorkplaceFriday, October 26, 2012
How can Christians in the workplace make the gospel attractive (Titus 2:10) to unbelievers? Think of it this way. The voice on a radio commercial urges you to spend $19.95 on a filter pitcher. An hour later you watch a TV ad that shows the same unit turning a rusty stream from a faucet into crystal-clear water. Which message are you more likely to trust? We’ve known since kindergarten that show-and-tell works far better than tell-by-itself.
Jesus knows that, too. Shortly before he went to the cross, his first disciples heard him asking his Father for the kind of showing that would make the telling about him believable: "My prayer is not for them [the first followers] alone. I pray also for those [all believers since then] who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23).
If the gospel is going to do its powerful saving work in unbelievers, they will need to know and to believe that Jesus really is the God-sent One. So in this heart-cry to his Father, Jesus pleads for the one thing that will make the gospel authentic for the world. Oneness that reflects the eternal Father-Son relationship of heaven. Unity that is not merely partial but complete.
And although Jesus did not say so outright, he implied that if people of the world are to know and believe, they will have to be able to see this unity demonstrated. (That’s why, he said, lamps belong on lamp stands and not under bowls—Matt. 5:16. The light needs to become visible through good deeds.)
Here’s where our workplaces offer us believers such a powerful opportunity. Just over a year ago, I surveyed 60 Christians in non-church jobs. Ninety-five percent worked with at least one other believer. Nearly half reported six or more believers among their on-the-job contacts. It seems likely, then, that most Christians work among at least a few other Christ-followers.
Imagine the effect if all the believers in workplaces around the world began to practice—in those settings—the dozens of one-another and each-other instructions of the New Testament. Love one another. Serve one another. Pray for each other. Encourage one another. Spur one another on to love and good deeds. Forgive one another. And so on. What if all these Christians did these things for each other, not in a show-off way, but in a manner unbelievers can see lived out day after day? What if they did so with no regard for church "brands”?
Unity within a church gathered in its own building on a Sunday is good—and should be practiced. But that unity will remain largely invisible to the most of the world. Bowls conceal. Lamp stands reveal. Unless we’re careful, our church buildings can become bowls. However, the workplace presents us with the lamp-stand prospect of demonstrating heaven’s unity right out where unbelievers can see it. And there is no law on the books that will prevent us from doing exactly what Jesus prayed for.What’s stopping each of us from becoming a part of the answer to his prayer?