Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
If you have been a Christian for very long you have heard a few sermons on this week’s text, often referred to as the “Great Commission”. In that case you probably have also heard that the original Greek version of the middle sentence includes only one verb – make disciples. The going, baptizing and teaching are all technically participles. Some translations of that sentence begin with “As you go.”
That is where Christian business people come in. The Voice of the Martyrs lists dozens of countries that are “restricted” when it comes to missionary activity. Some would even qualify for the common description of “closed” to missionaries. But how many countries in the world are closed to business people? None. Business people of one stripe or another can travel to every country in the world.
Now business travel can be tedious and exhausting. There are reasons why many of us try to avoid it. But what if we considered the Kingdom opportunities our business travel afforded. Some of us are called to move whole business operations to restricted countries for just that purpose and that is both awesome and a little scary. But all of us are called to be Christian, every day, wherever we are, even in the most restricted of of places.
Like it or not, many of us are required to travel for business. Next time you go, keep your eyes open for what the Lord might be doing in your destination. Pray about what you see. Bring your Christian generosity, courtesy and discernment to the world. Look to see what the Lord will do with you, as you go.
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14
Sometimes being a Christian in the workplace is a struggle. You can find yourself in an atmosphere that is anything but conducive to your faith. Take a broad acceptance of profanity, mix in large amounts of social drinking, top it off with an undertone of sexual promiscuity and you have a recipe for conflict in the workplace. How is a Christian supposed to fight that kind of culture?
The famous text from Luke 2 might give us some clues. When Jesus was born the heavenly host appeared. That word “host” doesn’t mean choir. It means army. And wherever God sends an army you should expect to see some fighting – and you do in Luke 2. The angels aren’t using crude, physical weapons. Their weapon is their praise. They launch a salvo of God’s glory and proclaim His message of peace. Beat that, culture.
In the worldly workplace the same tactics are available to us. If we pronounce His praise and proclaim His message we strike back against the darkness. Doesn’t mean you have to put “PTL” on your letterhead – although being intentional about your praise is a great thing. As a first step, just make sure it is in your heart and mind and that you have the courage to share it, then expect the praise of God to come out when it is most needed.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
Christian business people often get a bad rap from Christians who aren’t part of the business world. Business majors in Christian college are sometimes called “greedy” or “unspiritual”. Business men and women are famous for being focused on the bottom line instead of on the needs of other people. They can be the hardest people to get to volunteer just because of the long hours their jobs demand.
But when it comes to taking care of orphans and widows, business people have an edge over every other part of the Christian community. Sure, business people can give to the poor but everyone can do that. Sometimes business people have stewardship over more funds than people outside of business so their gifts for relieving poverty can be larger but there is more to business people even than that.
Business people have the ability to structure the very economy in which poverty exists. Instead of just focusing on high-end products, what if your company offered some low-price, good quality options in its product line that orphans and widows could readily afford? We don’t have to treat them like beggars. Treat them with dignity like any other customer. And we don’t have to make a fortune on the backs of the poor, just allow them to participate in the economy.
We don’t have to live down to our reputation. We can be the very hands of Christ helping the poor just by doing what we do, if we do it out of obedience to the Father.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. Psalm 91:14-15.
We all like being rewarded for our work. That’s one of the main reasons we get up and go to work every day. But there’s an old saying both in business and in sports – “good guys finish last.”
If one of your children were to ask if the saying was true, you would probably say, “no”. But somewhere deep inside you are afraid that, sometimes, it might be.
We most suffer from that fear when we are in the middle of “being last”. An employee you had to fire is telling all kinds of stories about you but to protect her privacy you say nothing. Your boss puts his name on your work and then forwards it to the company president. You don’t protest. The supplier with whom you are trying to negotiate is being totally unreasonable by anyone’s standards but, when you are offered an opportunity to expose him in front of his colleagues, you decline.
It is in those moments that we wonder if we are destined to be a doormat. The desire to defend ourselves can be pretty overwhelming. While it certainly isn’t always wrong to “set the record straight”, relying on the Lord to vindicate us comes with some definite benefits.
God doesn’t just save His people from destruction. He doesn’t just restore them to where they were before they were taken advantage of by others. The end of our text says he also “honors” them. Some translations say, “glorify”. That’s a pretty heavy word. How many “attaboys” at work would you trade for honor given to you by God? If that’s not reason enough to wait on the deliverance of the Lord, you may be working for the wrong rewards.
You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, “You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.” But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Matthew 5:21-22a.
When we think of commandments we might have violated, “You shall not murder” is not one for which most of us feel at risk. The same would be true for “You shall not steal and You shall not commit adultery.” Those are standards we think we can meet.
We get it, though. Jesus is saying the standard is a lot higher than we think. Being angry is like committing murder. Looking at someone other than your spouse in the wrong way is like committing adultery.
Fair enough but is Jesus just talking about murder and adultery? Of course not. The point is that God’s call to holiness is a lot bigger than we think. It’s not just about what we do. It’s about what we look at, think, say, and feel. And it’s true in every aspect of our lives, no? True at home, true at church, true at play, and true at work.
So, fudging your lunch expense report would be the same as stealing the contents of the cash register. Maybe it’s the same as stealing every cent in the company. Failing to correct the boss’ misunderstanding about who completed the project is the same as lying to him about it. Maybe it’s the same as lying to him about everything.
There are no small sins. No excusable sins. Our call is to be Christian at work the way Christ, Himself, would be. We’re called to be completely truthful, completely trustworthy, completely fair in all our dealings. With that understanding of our calling, let’s hold ourselves to the real standard of Christlikeness and daily rely on God’s help to meet it.