Blog - Grasping Vocation
Religious Ruts in Your Work World: Part 12Friday, June 11, 2010
RELIGIOUS RUTS IN YOUR WORK WORLD: PART 12
BUT SCRIPTURE MAKES IT CLEAR: YOU'RE THERE TO MAKE THE GOOD NEWS APPEALING
A few years ago, during the boom years of real-estate sales, a new business emerged—home staging. A seller hires the home stager to put forward the best features of the house. According to one expert, “Staging a home can make a huge difference in how it's perceived by prospective buyers.”
Is there a lesson here for Christ-followers in the work world?
Many Christians see just one spiritual value in their jobs—speaking the gospel to unbelievers. But was that the only Kingdom value Paul perceived in the everyday work of believers? We don't have to guess. In his letter to Titus, Paul told him how to instruct working disciples: “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:9-10).
Hold on, Paul! Isn't the gospel attractive enough all by itself? Yes, the “teaching about God our Savior” shines with built-in appeal. But it may not appear that way to those still in the dark. So God places his children alongside them as “stagers” to make the gospel sparkle by the way they work. “Make . . . attractive” in Paul's letter to Titus means to embellish, to adorn, to beautify.
Okay, Paul, but how can someone in the work world actually garnish the gospel? By incessantly talking about it to unreceptive co-workers? No, not exactly. Paul spotlights not saying but doing. Follow instructions. Please your boss. Refuse to engage in back-talk. Never use for your own benefit what belongs to your employer. Prove yourself trustworthy and dependable. (It's remarkable how closely this list compares with the reasons contemporary employees get fired.)
In emphasizing works instead of words, I wonder if Paul may have been thinking of what Jesus himself had taught his disciples years before: “. . . let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). In his letter to Titus, Paul kept repeating this “doing what is good” theme again and again (Titus 2:13-14; 3:8, 14).
Other New Testament passages urge the same (emphases added): “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share” (I Tim. 6:18). “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (I Pet. 2:12). “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24).
Yes, there will be opportunities for words in the workplace. Peter urges, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (I Pet. 3:15-16). But even here, the back-story or the “staging” for the words seems to be “your good behavior in Christ.”
One reason God deploys us into the work world is to beautify the gospel by the way we act there. Sadly, it's also possible for us to “uglify” it. What have you seen in your experience in the work world?