Blog - Supporting Believers

The Hunt for Fellow Believers

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Outnumbered by unbelieving co-workers, clients and bosses, Christians can experience Monday as something like an amputation from the body. Scripture makes it clear God does not favor prolonged isolation. It was “not good” for the man to be alone. Aaron became Moses' partner. Pity the man, says Solomon, who falls and has no one to help him up! Jesus sent the Twelve and the 72 to serve in pairs. What can you do if, like Elijah, your work leaves you feeling “I am the only one”?

First—and most important—you can pray. Ask God to arrange workplace contacts and conversations in ways that will let you and other believers recognize each other as such.

Second, in the expectation that God is working, you can begin to ferret out other Christians. No online service such as eHarmony® offers to match Christian with Christian in the workplace. But you can prayerfully search for other believers within the network of your on-the-job relationships. Which raises the question: How will you be able to recognize them in that context?

The ancient fish symbol, now so overused, hardly works any more. At church on Sundays, we typically rely on familiar signals: They show up for services. They carry Bibles. They're fluent in Christian-speak. They bear our denominational label. In relying on these “badges” we may have let our Christian-detector skills atrophy.

Jesus endorsed the fruit test. Peach trees produce peaches. You may find it helpful to develop a set of fruit questions to help you search out Christians in your workplace network. These questions won't yield absolute answers. Genuine Christians often act out of character. But use the questions to search for reflections of the Spirit of Christ. As Ray Stedman once put it, “They will bear the family mark.”

John the Apostle wrote: “love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (I John 4:7). So as you generate these questions, form them out of what Jesus called the two greatest commandments—agape love for God and neighbor.

Loving-God questions might include asking: How does he treat the name of Jesus? What seems to be the basis of her hope? If he sees a Bible or hears it mentioned, how does he respond? What clues do you pick up from the words she uses in normal conversation? How does he answer when you ask, “May I pray for you?”

Examples of loving-neighbor questions: What attitudes and actions does she display toward the “nobodies” among co-workers or clients? Does he forgive others when wronged? Doe she retaliate? How does he speak of supervisors when they're not around?

Use these examples as thought- prompters. Expand your list of fruit-test questions and tailor it to your own circumstances. Keep in mind that you are not “playing God” or judging the eternal destiny of anyone. You are simply attempting to locate those among your work neighbors who, to the best of your knowledge, are brothers and sisters in Christ.

Keep your purposes clearly in mind as you identify other Christ-followers:

· You are paving the way for mutual encouragement in the workplace—a setting in which you may literally “encourage one another daily” as Scripture tells us to do (Hebrews 3:13). This encouragement can take many forms: prayer for one another, refreshing words, thumbs-up signs on hard days and so on.

· You are not recruiting potential members for the group you gather with on Sundays.

· You are building Christian-to-Christian relationships in which New Testament one-another love can be acted out in front of unbelievers in a place where they can see it. As Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples" (John 13:35, NLT).

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