Right now I'm trying to hear God about a job for which I've been interviewing. My specific situation has got me to thinking about the age old Christian issue about how much should we be in the world.
I have not been offered the job, but I'm trying to decide for sure if I even want it so that I'll know what to do if I am offered the position. My problem is that, this business does some things that are legal, socially accepted, common practices, but with which I have issues because of how I look at things since I'm a Christian.
My husband John has an interesting take on it. He's worked in the public school arena for 35 years and really thinks Christians need to be out in the world making a difference. He talks passionately about how if we pull out of everything that is secular (which frequently most secular institutions will do some things that as Christians we do not agree with) - how are people to see the gospel? He quoted the following scripture from 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (I'm printing it in the Message paraphrase but linked it to several translations side by side):
In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.
This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No— but at least we don't take God's Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ's presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can.
As I read this scripture, I find myself asking if the world needs Christians so that they can experience God's presence through them, does this mean that sometimes it is God's will for Christians to be places where everything being done is not godly? I also find myself wondering if I always need to actually speak the truth out loud against things that I believe are wrong?
John's point about this scripture is that he thinks just being a Christian and having the Holy Spirit within you makes a difference to that location. I know this is true; I had one experience with this that is still vivid for me. Once when I was running a facility in west LA, we were in the midst of an annual survey with the department of public health; I had one of the surveyors pull me aside and tell me that she sensed the presence of Christ in me and to never take that for granted, that He could bring light into that dark place through His presence in me. I remember feeling like God spoke to me through that woman and I would get to work early every morning and just walk about the place, silently praying for the staff, patients and issues of the day.
Recently I was re-reading the story of when the nation of Israel came back into the promised land and Rehab's role in this. I can't help but think that those Jewish spies who came back to check out the land and met Rehab were surprised that God was using a harlot to help them, harlots were unclean people who were choosing to live in a lifestyle of undeniable sin. Normally they would not even let themselves be around such a sinner. But God used Rehab and she is even in the lineage of Jesus - my point being that God doesn't always work in ways that agree with our religious cultural morality.
Christians talk a lot about being set apart, holy, so God can use them and not wanting to be corrupted by the world. But does that mean we are not be around the world? And if we're around the world, how much around it is OK? I want to live a life that is every day, in every way, pleasing to God. I lean toward thinking that these issues are very individual and that I must be open because God may not work in the Christian acceptable box that I may tend toward building.
The last part of this scripture clearly speaks to not watering down and compromising God's message, it's speaking about hearing from God what to say and being faithful to speak just that. But does this mean we always need to speak out? Or does it imply that when God directs us to speak, we make sure to say what He wants?
These are questions I'm pondering today and would be very interested in hearing your thoughts. I've put in bold the questions I'm asking myself and I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on these issues, or anything you care to say in general on this topic.