My conviction is that God is as eager to join us in the world, as He is to meet us ‘at church.’ With that as a backdrop, allow me to share an opportunity that emerged recently because I live in the world not separated from it.
I have a friend who is CEO of an innovative, successful company. He is what some might call a ‘superficial believer.’ He never reads the Bible, may drink too often and is the most positive, encouraging person I know. His goals are building the company, his family, and having as much fun as possible.
When he talks about his employees, it is how
While walking and praying I had two thoughts for my friend. The first was how to fix an unresolved business situation. The idea was compelling and created. When I text it to him, he was amazed, agreed it would work, and thanked me effusively. I mentioned I had another thought for him and asked if he was interested. He requested we meet in person.
God in restaurants
We met two weeks later and he teared up as I shared about how God had gifted him, His pleasure with my friend as a CEO, and wisdom in guarding his confidence. It was the most powerful ministry I have done while sitting in a restaurant, holding a drink in my hand. It was also the first.
He opened his life further the more we talked. An hour later, he pointed to the restaurant entrance and said, ‘There’s one of my team members, I asked him to join us so he could meet you.’ I realized then there was a plan beyond my own.
He introduced me, ‘This is Steve. He’s my mentor in business, life, and helps me with spirituality.’ His team member replied, ‘I don’t have anyone in my life like that, but I wish I did.’ We sat, snacked, drank, and talked about life, marriage, and success for the next two hours.
It was fascinating how there seemed to be no walls between us. Could it be a spark of some ancient reality they yearn for that flickers in my tired and ragged humanity? Do they see or feel some small aspect of Christ in me, rather than the religious shtick they expect?
Value and honor
Is it possible this same spark which once attracted people when I was newly saved had become hidden by the muck of much religious effort; my misguided attempts to add to what God had already done in me? It is possible it has taken years of simply living life in the world, not separated from it, to be free of my religious disease?
Is it possible that my ministry gifts are now more effective anchored in my humanity, rather than a religious persona that exudes requirement and pressure, instead of love and value? It certainly seems that way. Here is why I think they are open and responsive to me in spite of the gap between us.
I have zero judgment towards them. I value them and what God has created them to do. They come alive as this value is expressed from someone who represents God. I am more impressed by their gifts in business than my own in ‘ministry.’ I know God has gifted them, and that they
Maybe that opens their hearts. Maybe feeling valued and appreciated for who they are, and what they bring to our world encourages instead of discourages them. It appears that value and honor create freedom and openness. Maybe I am finally becoming a little like Jesus, a
Later my friend reached out and asked me to begin hosting meetings for his Executive Team. His goal is ‘creating an environment of trust where they can unload and get help.’ I will basically do what I did at the restaurant, sit, listen, share life, and simple insight about God and His heart for them.
My plan is creating and protecting an environment where they can open their lives, find helpful insights, and become aware of their value to God and His plan. Superficial answers, snap judgments, and disapproving pressure will not be a part of what I do.
Religion would only pressure them to become caricatures of who God designed them to be. He created them to be great engineers, executives, and salespeople and that’s what our world needs them to be, not bad amateur Bible teachers. We are currently overstaffed in that category already.
Is it possible this has been God’s intention for us all along? I love the church and our meetings, but Jesus did more in the world than inside meetings. In fact, if you read the gospels closely half of what occurred in synagogues (the church of his day) were demons manifesting. Think about it.
People want to know God and do their part in His plan. Many have seen religion and decided to not join, but remain eager to know God. We can lead them to something greater if we can overcome our ‘felt religious pressure,’ offer friendship, and express God’s value for them now.
A greater commission
This may have been what Jesus was describing in what we call the ‘great commission.’ Maybe that is what Christianity was really supposed to be all along; restoring people to God and His ways IN the world, so our system of human interaction and transaction can be transformed.
Maybe if we had a vision of ‘doing everything with grace and artistry,’ work could be reimagined as sacred, and be seen as ‘worship pleasing to God.’ If the artificial divide between the sacred and secular disappears God can be welcomed, experienced, and His presence established in our world.
We can bring God’s goodness to our world through our work. As members of ‘the church’ we are tasked with transforming the world by serving
Maybe we could start remembering that we are only different because He is in us. Celebrating God incarnating Himself in our frail humanity is infinitely more compelling than the onerous self-righteousness so often masquerading as Christianity. It is Christ in us which is transformative, nothing else.
A better world
Can we rise above the fear or hatred of the world imparted by zealous but misguided religious leaders to lovingly engage it instead? Can we begin honoring those who have faithfully served our world, instead of categorizing their work as less than ‘ministry?’
They do God’s work and the sooner we realize it, the quicker we can honor them for it. In our zeal to honor God, I
What about the professionals in the marketplace who have led our world, while we prophesied it’s demise? Can we step back from our judgment and instead help shoulder the burden for our world they have borne alone? Would many come to know the God who created and longs to live in them?
The reality of Christ inside can transform the current world into the one we all look for. A world where God dwells among us by people with Christ in them, serving others with their gifts. That world is closer to reality than we might now imagine. Let us give ourselves to bringing it about.