Best of Daily Reflections: Islands of HopeDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
"When Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant..."
During one of the semester breaks of my college years, I volunteered to help strip and wax the floors of our student union as a way to earn extra money. While the ad indicated no experience was necessary for the job, I soon discovered that was an optimist’s opinion. Little did I know how complex it was to get a floor buffer to bend to my will! Confidently I spread the solution on the floor, and then stepped into the middle of it and squeezed the handles to the buffer: immediate chaos! That buffer became the bucking bronco to my novice rider, tossing me from one side of the hall to the next, slamming me into walls and dragging me behind it as I held on for dear life. “Let go,” the supervisor shouted, but that was easier said than done. The urge to hold on tighter, thereby squeezing the controls that made the buffer go, was greater than the idea of just letting go. I would learn eventually, but it wasn’t easy.
Many followers of Jesus approach serving God at work the way I did that buffer, especially if they have the narrow idea that evangelism on the job is the only way to serve God there. Wanting to talk about Jesus, they press too hard to create opportunities, frequently creating chaos where none existed before. While a ride on a buffer can be humorous and humbling, the chaos of forced evangelism is not as harmless.
That’s why it’s important to earn the respect of our coworkers as a prerequisite to any kind of spiritual exchanges. When workers trust the competency and integrity of our working lives, they’ll be more likely to trust the choices we make in our spiritual lives.
Today’s Scripture is one example of such an outcome. The Jewish people had earned the respect of the centurion, and when that centurion needed help for his ailing servant, he turned to them to introduce him to Jesus. How often have your coworkers, having already marked you as a believer, approached you to pray for their family or a personal crisis? Most working Christians I know have experienced this, and yet they rarely considered it their service to God. In fact, the way we do our work and the way we carry ourselves on the job are key to us being seen as islands of hope in a culture of stress.
Even better, if we can approach Jesus in our prayers for our coworkers with the same urgency as these Jewish leaders did for the centurion, we cement in their minds our roles as ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). And when others see we care enough to really pray, they are open to even more encounters with our faith.
Like the buffer in my youth, the lightest touch is the often the best course.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Think about the place where you work. Are there people there you already know as people of faith? How did you know? What does their behavior at work make you think about their personal faith? What do your coworkers think of you as a worker? What do they think of your personal faith? Ponder this reality, too: many will define God’s nature by yours when they know you’re a Christian. If you’re stern, they will likely see God as stern, etc.
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help me today to watch for ways to honor you by honoring my roles on the job. Help me to realize that how others see me work defines how they see the other choices in my life, including my faith. Make me an island of hope in the storms of their days, and grant me the compassion to pray for them with integrity and concern that lets them see your love in me. Amen.
If work is God’s gift to us and an invitation to participate with him in the work of redemption and restoration, it makes sense that we would experience grace and also be the conduits of grace in our work and workplaces. We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do good work. So, in this season of gift giving and celebrating the gift of grace through Jesus, join us as we consider how to find grace in our work this Advent, in this series, Advent Works.