Many Christians lament that it is hard to keep their faith at work. I understand how they feel: I worked a secular job myself for several years before I enrolled in seminary. I know how hard it is to live with Christian ethics in the workplace. But what makes it more difficult is a passive attitude characterized by the word “keep” when talking about keeping faith. It is a passive and defensive word.
I was six years old when the Korean War broke out. The night before U.N. forces retook the city of Seoul, I was in a bunker shelter with my great-grandmother. I still remember the fear I felt when the artillery was being fired. I heard a booming sound in the distance, followed by a shrieking noise as the shell flew overhead, then an explosion nearby. I felt like my heart was about to freeze.
I think the people who are lying low in a shelter are more fearful than those who are fighting outside, the ones advancing to capture the artillery. Your fear tends to get smaller when you confront it but larger when you evade it. If you unexpectedly come across a snake in the woods you would be frightened. But if you’re looking for snakes, and then find one, you wouldn’t be frightened at all.
When Christians think only about protecting themselves from worldly influence, they are being defensive. As long as they maintain that attitude, they will not be free from fear. They will be torn between two fears, a fear that they will become failures in this world and be rejected by others, and a fear that they will be polluted by the world and become worldly Christians.
A better approach is to be aggressive. Instead of just not being influenced by the world, we should seek to transform the world. We should not just “keep our faith” at work, but try to spread our faith to coworkers. We should not just refuse to drink at company functions but try to introduce activities to make gatherings fun without alcohol. If you are defensive in your faith, you will lose. If you become aggressive, you will win. It’s like keeping balance on a bike. If you try to maintain balance without pedaling, you will very easily fall. But if you pedal and move forward, you don’t need to worry about losing your balance and falling.
If we want to be the salt and light of the world as Jesus commanded, we need to be more aggressive. We should not hide from the world but go out and conquer it. We shouldn’t worry about how strong our faith is but just go out and witness. Fear should be confronted, not avoided.
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