I’m just home from a ‘Spiritual Friendship in the Marketplace’ seminar held at Wesley Methodist Church today. The speaker, Rev. Dr. Soo-Inn Tan, is a pastor, preacher and author. His message was powerful. He said churches and Christians often like to measure their success in numbers or size or will comment that ‘that church on the corner has just been refurbished again—what are they doing right?’. But what is constantly on the lips of Jesus in the gospels is the pressing need to share the Good News of the coming Kingdom with all people. Dr. Tan spoke of how when we bring kingdom values into the workplace we are doing God’s work. Indeed, we see the legitimacy of our daily work in how we bring God’s work in. The church exists to equip us for that.
Our question as Christians—and indeed what marks us a Christians—is how do we take God's principles and apply them in our daily lives in the marketplace? That is to say in our places of work, where we volunteer, where we live. What does a Christian teacher look like? What does a Christian hairdresser look like? What does a Christian banker look like? We do not study God’s work in an exam, but in how Christian’s live out their lives: What does a Christian HR policy look like? How does a Christian respond to corruption or racism in the workplace?
It is in our answering of these questions that we work out what being a Christian in this world of ours means. One example he shared was of a street hawker. Let’s say the hawker has six children to feed. He dutifully fulfils all his legal requirements regarding health and hygiene and diligently submits tax returns on time. Yet a person in authority still asks for more, still says ‘give me X amount of money toward my retirement fund before I grant you a license’. Is paying bribes still wrong? Yes. So how does the hawker deal with the reality that he has to pay if he wants to keep his stall open? How does a Christian interpret Bible principles in the world?
Dr. Tan spoke of how following God in this fallen world will mean there are times when we need encouragement. As it says in Hebrews 10:24-5, ‘Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works’. The new initiative of Marketplace Support Gatherings at Wesley are designed to provide us with role models, encouragement, contextual learning and accountability on that journey. The hope is that Christians working in different areas can meet together and communicate online to talk through, to pray, to get advice on how they should respond to challenges in the workplace.
Instead of asking ‘is God on our side?’, let us as Christians be on God’s side as we live out our lives!
Saturday 7th May, 2016
Blog posts written by the Minister and Members of Frodsham Methodist Church.