Monday, October 03, 2011
"...when Christians work in the world, they will either assimilate into their culture and support the status quo or they will be agents of change. This is especially true in the area of work. Every culture works on the basis of a 'map' of what is considered most important. If God and his grace are not at the center of a culture, then other things will be substituted as ultimate values. So every vocational field is distorted by idolatry" - Timothy Keller
For many of us, work is a destination - "we go to work". Or we might think of work as a burden - "I'm swamped with work". But we seldom think of work as an active cultural hotbed - a set of shared, functional values, goals and beliefs firmly held and practiced by those at our workplace.
Tim Keller reminds us otherwise. According to him, we have two choices when we engage our work environment - we can either assimilate or be agents of change. Assimilation means adopting the values, goals and beliefs of the work environment - acquiescing to what the culture dictates as important or valued. The workplace culture may teach us to value recognition or money or status. It may instruct us on how to cut corners as long as no one catches you. The corporate environment may promote the appearance, rather than the substance of a matter. It may promote the brash and boastful rather than the meek and humble. All around us daily, we're confronted by the values of the organizations we serve and we can choose to accept them or to listen intently to God.
We can choose the alternative path - being change agents or disrupters for the sake of the gospel. Stepping out as change agents for the gospel starts with watching our own hearts - getting our own functional values and core beliefs aligned with biblical truth. Keeping at the forefront of our hearts, the treasuring of Christ as the source of our joy. Being change agents also means boldly stepping out to shape the cultural workplace by bringing to bear our beliefs and values formed in the hot furnace of biblical conviction. What does this look like? How about exemplifying grace by extending kindness to our co-workers when they deserve no such kindness. On occasion, it may mean taking a stand on a biblically informed ethical issue when others see it differently. Most of all, it means summoning the courage to speak gospel truth - calling our friends to turn away from their current course to follow Christ.
As Keller succinctly concludes - every vocational field is distorted by idolatry. We would be wise stewards of our vocations if we identify these false gods, disrupt the status quo and point the way to true satisfaction in the Eternal God.