Wearing Your Faith on Your (Work) Sleeve

Anyone who has known me personally since 1998 knows that I am a committed Christian.  They know this because I try to live a Christ-centered life and I am not ashamed to admit my faith. However it took me many years to have the courage to share my faith in the workplace.

It is not unusual for people of strong faith to hide who they are in the workplace.  We tend to avoid discussions of religion, God and social or moral issues.  There is a palpable fear for many of us that if we open up this private area of our lives to our business colleagues or even our clients, there will be unwanted consequences:  Strange looks, stares, whispering, stereotyping, accusations of intolerance, and even discrimination.

Our faith is not incompatible with our workplace.  Christians have historically been peacemakers, advocates for the weak, a refuge and a source of comfort for the lost, the broken, the fearful and the weary.  We offer hope and peace, mercy and grace in a world that is often wicked, evil and cold, and a workplace that is sometimes not much better.  Why not reach out in brotherly and sisterly love, compassion and concern for our fellow workers?

I am not advocating that we corner our cubicle neighbors and give our testimonies, belt out Gospel songs, read our Bibles aloud to them during lunch, or recruit them for the next church missions trip.  I am saying that despite the impression many have that our faith is not welcome in the workplace, it is very clearly needed there just as everywhere else in this broken world today.

God did not call us to be ashamed of our faith, nor to hide it from the world.

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels. Mark 8:38

No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. Luke 8:16

I have made the subtle gesture of placing my Bible (the one I read during lunch at work) on my desk. I have done this now for 7 years.  In that time I have had many people notice the book and say things like, “Are you a Christian?  I am too” and even “I knew you were a Christian!”  With that opening I was able to share my faith without fear and without hesitation.  At their request I have even prayed for, over and with clients throughout the years…the feelings I experienced when I did this was simply amazing!

In fact, since I have stopped hiding my faith at work I have met dozens of very successful and some really powerful men and women in my industry who are strong believers.  Sharing that faith together created a unique bond that increased our mutual respect,  strengthened our business relationship, and opened some interesting doors.

I have attended more conferences, business meetings and work social events then I care to recall where people had no issue sharing their intimate thoughts, dreams and desires…sometimes offensive, sometimes foolish, oftentimes inappropriate. Anyone who has spent time in earshot of the bar at a business conference knows exactly what I am saying. Under the circumstances what then do you have to lose by letting your fellow workers, and even clients know that you have found a relationship with the Lord to be a significant and defining aspect of your whole blessed life?

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:14

 

 

Why is their So Much Suffering When we Have a Loving God?

The tragic rain and flooding that is, at this moment, still threatening the lives and property of people living in Texas,  is an event that deserves all of our prayers and support.  The devastation that is unfolding there is a reminder that our lives on this Earth are temporary and fleeting.  Any moment death and destruction can visit our doorsteps.

Often when the worst happens we cry out “where is God?”  Certainly a loving father would not sit by idly and watch as his creation, young, old, men, and women, are simply swept away to a violent death.  This is something even a mature person of faith will struggle with because the Bible speaks of God’s love for his children and his desire that we lived blessed lives.  So why the contradiction?

The answer is complicated and not easy to accept.  We have free will which means that God gave us the ability to make our own choices.  This means the choice to follow Him but also the choice to live where we want, to respond to serious threats around us in a manner that increases our protection, and to educate ourselves how to manage life’s risks and challenges.  Government leaders have been placed in positions of earthly authority over us and have the free will to enact laws, assign resources, spend tax dollars in the manner they feel appropriate to protect the welfare of citizens, as we have the free will to choose those we decide are best prepared to lead us.

Earth is not our permanent home.  Death is not a permanent end.  Although humans are fixated on creating majestic lives and lifestyles on Earth and fear death, this is contrary to what the Lord has instructed us.  We are to avoid the excesses of this world, and live with the promise of a better and eternal life of joy that awaits us in heaven.

If we view our lives understanding that this world is temporary and that death is merely a doorway  to another better place it helps us to cope with tragedies such as what is happening in Houston now.  This does not mean should not mourn for those who are lost, nor support or attend to those who are injured and homeless, or work to prevent similar tragedies for occurring through better preparation, training and education. It does mean though that we must recognize that pain and suffering are a necessary part of life on this Earth,  but that even in the midst of the worst God promises that there is so much more in store for us that will wipe every tear, brighten every face, soother every pain and calm every fear.

God offers us peace and hope in the face of every disaster.  We need to cling to that promise and trust in His Word.

The time is short…this world in its present  form is passing away. 1 Corinthians  7:29-31

Everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  1 John 5:4

There are heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies, but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind and the splendor of earthly bodies is another…The body that is sown (earthly) is perishable, it is raised imperishable.  1 Corinthians 15:40, 42

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whomsoever should believe in Him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life.  John 3:16

“Father God, please bless those who are suffering this very moment in the midst of the disaster in Texas.  Comfort those in pain, bring hope to those who are lost, bring peace to those in fear. Bless the first responders and rescue workers as they do their jobs. Remind us all that this is not our home, and that there is a place you have prepared for us where tragedy never strikes, where death is defeated, and where perpetual joy awaits us. Amen.”

 

 

When We “Get It,” We See Real Victory

When we realize that what God offers as victory is easy, because we become free, and what man offers as victory is impossible, because we are enslaved, we finally “get it.”

The world offers up material goals that keep us all on a treadmill trying in vain to reach the carrot just a few yards a head of us.  We do all we can to get it, too often leaving behind family, friends, and quiet time.  We sacrifice day and night for the elusive prize.  Those of us who are “fortunate” enough to get the carrot find that as soon as we devour it a new and bigger “treat” is placed ahead of us and off we go again, the treadmill spinning wildly with the most recent material victory in the rear view mirror, well out of our mind.

God offers things the world cannot: true peace, true joy, and true victory.  His rewards bring us happiness that lasts.  They also help us embrace the type of truths that can smooth the bumpy ride of life for us, with our loved ones, our friends and our co-workers.

Talk to people who are financially successful…very few are ever truly happy and fewer still can get off their treadmill.  After all there are still more treats to chase after!

Then talk to people who are mature in their faith.  They too are successful but in a different way.  They have successfully run a different race, a race to achieve the goals that our loving Father has for each of us.  Goals designed to bring out the best in us and achieve true happiness for us.  Along the way they also have accumulated enough material things to bring them worldly joy because their Father has blessed them for their obedience and commitment.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.…”  Hebrews 12:1,2