Blog - Embodying Truth
Go to Work as a Fruit GrowerTuesday, March 29, 2011
Witnessing on the job. The thought of doing so frightens many Christians in the work world. A blogger recently asked: "How do I take my public stand for Christ without coming across as some preachy weirdo?” Some worry it may be against the law to stand for Jesus on the job.
Paul, though, describes an approach to witnessing that deals with both of those concerns. If you do what he told the Galatians, you won’t come off as a crackpot. Nor will you be breaking any laws—not even any 21st century codes. After describing the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, Paul adds: "Against such things there is no law.”
Fruit. Jesus gave it high priority. In the four gospels, he mentions the term more than 30 times. In his final word about fruit (John 15:16), Jesus says: "I . . . appointed you that you should go and bear fruit. . . .” Earlier in that same chapter, of course, Jesus had identified himself as the "true Vine.” We, his disciples, are the "branches.”
These pictures come from the vineyard. The vine thrusts each branch out into its own unique space. What does it send the branch out there to do? To bear fruit—a lot of it. The fruit attracts the hungry. They will reach for it. Each normal grape comes with seeds inside. Each seed carries within it the potential to reproduce the life of the vine.
Through your work, Jesus places you in a unique space. As a branch, you are to produce fruit that those near you can see and reach. Whatever your role or title, Jesus the Vine has sent you into that space to work as a fruit grower.
What does that look like on the job? My friend John teaches loadmasters how to safely stash cargo aboard the military cargo plane, the C-17. I recently asked him, "How has your faith in Christ affected non-Christian co-workers?”
He told me that several years ago he was diagnosed with cancer. A co-worker, a non-believer, heard about it and panicked. After a three-week post-surgery absence, John returned to the job. Observing him, the co-worker said, "I don’t understand how you can do this. How do you stay so calm? You’ve had cancer. But now you’re back as if nothing had happened.” John smiled and replied, "It’s not me. I’m here because this is what God wants me to do.” Since that time, John told me, five of his co-workers have been diagnosed with the same type of cancer. "God has given me strength to encourage them,” he said.
Stop and ponder. What varieties of the Spirit’s fruit did the John-branch produce there on the job? What attracted the co-worker to that fruit? And what kind of seed came inside that fruit?
The fruit from the John-branch attracted an unbelieving co-worker. He reached for it by asking John a question. John’s response lines up perfectly with I Pet. 3:15—"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
Fruit from branches growing from the Jesus-Vine is not weird; it’s welcomed. No law—federal, state, or local—prohibits you from producing the Spirit’s fruit there at work. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are still as legal as breathing—even on the job. And no law stops you from answering when a co-worker asks you to explain what’s behind that fruit.