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I remember looking through a Christian Business Directory once and a friend with me said, “Any business listed in there would be the last one that I would contact for anything!” My friend himself is a Christian, and the very directory that was intended to connect Christian shoppers with Christian businesses, actually had the opposite effect for him.
Once I got over the shock of what my friend had said, we talked about it. I learned that on more than one occasion my friend felt burned by business people who, though professed to be Christians, had a lousy set of business ethics. It got so bad that he has actually become quite cynical toward Christian business people. Other people I know have had similar testimonies. How sad.
Obviously not all Christian businesses are like that. Thank God they’re not. It is also obvious that someone who is usually above board could have been having a bad day. In truth, the whole thing is often quite subjective. Right or wrong, to think of someone else as being an *#@%*&#^#! depends more often than not on the individual’s perceptions of that other person. Do perceptions matter? Most certainly they do!
In commenting on the hypocrisy in the church, someone once said, “Christians aren’t perfect; they’re just forgiven.” While theologically true, I also thought, “What a load of crap! That’s just what the world needs; another pat answer!” Why do we seem to think that such responses suddenly make everything OK again? Is it OK to have poor ethics in the workplace because, as we all know, “Christians aren’t perfect; they’re just forgiven?” Is it OK for me to conduct myself in such a fashion that would cause someone to think of me as being an *#@%*&#^#!, simply because, as everyone knows, “Christians aren’t perfect; they’re just forgiven?”
I remember a place I worked at some years ago. There was a young man working there who had a work ethic that left a lot to be desired. I’m sure we’ve all met people like that. The language that came out of his mouth was foul and often negative towards others. His joking was colorful and crass, and was often offensive enough to make even a hooker want to blush. Jesus’ words, “You belong to your father, the devil” (John 8:44) could have applied to him. At least that is the way I discerned his character.
One day this person came to work and said that he was quitting. I wanted to shout out, “Thank you, Lord!” He then explained that he was leaving in order to go on his “mission.” It turns out that he was a Mormon. I thought to myself, what are you going to do, cuss and swear them into the Mormon kingdom? This I’d like to see!
A caveat is in order. Please understand that in no way am I suggesting that Mormonism is or isn't Christian, or that all Mormons are like that young man. Unlike what some seem to think, in my opinion, Mormonism is not simply another in the vast sea of Christian factions (denominations). In truth, most Mormons are decent people. Though I do not agree with them of faith matters, I count several of Mormons among my dear friends. [You may want to check out: Journey Out of Mormonism]
|Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons|
They may have perceived us wrongly, but it is still their perception of us. More importantly, if it is their perception of me as a professing Christian, then isn’t it also potentially a perception of my faith and my Lord? Why would someone be interested in my faith if all they continually see in me causes them to think of me as being an *#@%*&#^#! ? Does God receive glory from this? Of course not.
In the book, “Rees Howells: Intercessor,” biographer Norman Grubb tells the story of how one day a visitor arrived at the train station and asked, “Is the man with the Holy Ghost in town?” Though his name was never mentioned, the person at the train station instinctively knew that the visitor was referring to Rees Howells.
How is your testimony? How is mine? What if a stranger arrived at your workplace and asked the receptionist, “Is the man with the Holy Ghost here today?” Would she automatically know that the stranger was referring to you? Does our walk and our talk line up with who we profess to be? I’m ashamed to say that sometimes my testimony needs a little work in this department. How are we perceived by others?
I imagine if Christians really took the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 16-20) seriously, then maybe none of this would be an issue at all. Maybe we would be genuinely concerned for others more than ourselves. Maybe we would be more mindful of what we say and do, lest we be guilty of tarnishing the testimony of Christ. Maybe we would really look and act like the kind of people we “pretend” to be on Sunday morning (ouch). Maybe our workplace ethics would improve to the point where people really wanted to find us in the Christian Business Directory, and do so for the right reason.
Yes, Jesus loves you and me dearly. There is no denying that. Imagine how much sweeter that love of Jesus would be if we knew that everyone else didn’t think of us as being an *#@%*&#^#! Perception truly is everything.
That’s the way I see it anyways.