CHRISTIANITY IN THE WORKPLACE
Sometimes God pops up in the most unexpected of places.
A few months ago I watched the recommended Netflix crime drama series ‘Unbelievable’. It isn’t an easy watch, for reasons I won’t go into here and it certainly isn’t family viewing. But I was surprised when early on it showed a piece of paper stuck to a police officer’s car window saying: ‘here I am, send me’.
You may know these are words spoken by Isaiah when he has a vision of heaven where God asks who will go to speak to the people in his name. ‘Here I am, send me’, Isaiah said. In the crime drama, someone asks what the words mean and the woman explains she draws her inspiration to work as a police officer from Isaiah. In fact, what follows in the series is a lovely example of what it means to be a Christian in the workplace.
Christians are often presented in film and TV as weird, slightly unhinged or as old fashioned Bible-bashers. It was refreshing to see a generous, credible depiction of a woman who has faith in Jesus but can also do the tough business of law enforcement. Personal Christian faith is often used as a lazy plot device, but not in this case.
It is easy to be critical of TV series for not presenting Christians or the Church in an accurate way. The reality is that many people and professions are distorted by scriptwriters. It must drive the police mad to watch a crime series reach its climax by having the lone officer confront the villains without calling for back-up. So we can’t be surprised when the Church is portrayed in a way that doesn’t feel right. But the Netflix series ‘Unbelievable’ made a genuine effort at authenticity, right down to having a church congregation sing ‘In Christ alone’ when all we usually get on TV is ‘All things bright and beautiful’.
There is another reason not to be too critical of TV for not presenting Christians in the workplace in an honest light, and that’s because the Church itself can be so poor at doing so. Churches tend to meet on a Sunday for worship, fellowship and teaching. The whole point of this is to resource the people to go out and live as followers of Jesus from Monday to Saturday, especially in their places of work or gathering. But somehow it doesn’t always come across this way.
Two reasons why spring to mind. The first is that each Church of England church is given a geographical parish in which to do its ministry. However, about half of the people coming to church do not usually live in its parish and even more do not spend their working hours in it. This means there can be a disconnect between what the church is called to do in the parish and what its members are called to do elsewhere. And if we’re not careful, it’s what the church does in the parish that takes precedence not just on a Sunday, but in all the plans made during the week.
The other reason we can be poor at helping people to figure out what it means to be a follower of Jesus in their daily lives is because too much emphasis is placed on being ordained at the expense of being any other kind of Christian, which, as it happens, is the vast bulk of us.
In the New Testament, we are given clear teaching on how important it is to live for Jesus whatever we are doing. Most important of all, God has called each of us to our own vocation. Being ordained is one small part of this big picture. People are called to follow Jesus as mechanics, waiters, lawyers, recruiters, call centre operatives, nurses, childminders, refuse collectors, models, soldiers, chefs, software coders, teachers, bus drivers, personal carers. The list is endless and, most importantly, it covers what you do during the week. You may be paid for this, you may be a volunteer. Your work may be at home, it may be some place else. But we should be sure of this: what we do matters greatly to God, because he wants us to work to the praise of his glory and also to be a witness to Jesus.
Sometimes we might feel what we do is not important. I think we’ve all felt that from time to time. But it is of great importance to God. And if it matters to him, it must be a big deal. Our churches need to reflect this. To help people understand how they should be a follower of Jesus in the complexities and the opportunities of their working hours. It means how we do our worship, our fellowship, our praying and our learning should be geared to this goal and not be a bolt-on. Helping people figure it all out is vital. Each of us has a calling from God. Getting to grips with this is not simply down to the individual. It is a duty of the Church.
Obama's Covert Wars
The use of drones is going to change warfare out of all recognition in the next decades.
Through A Glass Starkly
Images of traumatic incidents caught on mobile phone can be put to remarkable effect.
What Are British Values?
Is there a British identity and if so, what has shaped the values and institutions that form it?