Blog - Embodying Truth

Where We Cross Paths

Friday, April 17, 2015

Where do Christ-followers most regularly interact with non-Christians? Decades ago, much of that took place in our neighborhoods. Now? Not so much. One blogger says it’s "practically an expected social norm these days to live next to someone for years and never get to know them, and in many cases never even learn their names.” Just last year, Marc Dunkelman’s book appeared with the title, The Vanishing Neighbor. ­

Rather than in their neighborhoods, Christians probably cross paths with more non-Christians on the job. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Carolyn Buck Luce describe the workplace as the new "social center” in our culture. They say, "the workplace is now the center and source of many people’s social lives.” In Working Together, Cynthia Estlund calls the workplace "a hotbed of social interaction.”

So the workplace has become one of the major venues in which we intersect our culture and its people. At the same time, as society is becoming less tolerant of what we Christians stand for, the pressures believers face in the work world are intensifying.

What’s the take-away here? In our churches, we need to get serious about preparing workplace-ready disciples. Far too many believers still think of what they do on the job as mere "secular work.” Too few see that God has intentionally placed them where they are to retard decay with salt and to penetrate darkness with light.

How is your church equipping Christian employees and employers to overcome evil with good in their working contexts? To love those who oppose? To bless when put down? A recent focus group made up of working Christians came up with these—among many other—practical questions. How do I . . .

. . . Maintain my integrity without passing judgment?

. . . Make an effective witness in a potentially hostile place?

. . . Build Christ into my workday?

. . . Tell my supervisor my needs in order to balance my workload?

. . . Help establish ethical guidelines in the workplace?

. . . Find other believers and encourage one another?

. . . Persevere?

Your church can help believers deal with these and other issues as they live out their faith at work. One of the best ways: create groups of Christians in similar vocations who meet to discuss how to live out their faith at work, to encourage, and to pray for each other. Each group should include at least one person who can bring mature biblical and theological insights into these workplace-oriented conversations.

Speaking to his Father about his followers, Jesus said: "I have sent them into the world” (Jn. 17:18). In what ways can your church help equip them for their assignments in the work world?

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