"Is God a concept for you, or a living reality?”
Not long ago, I heard this question posed by Dr. Tim Keller, during a sermon at the Redeemer Presbyterian Church, here in New York City. Now, that probing question is present whenever I cover religion stories.
Dr. Keller’s point is if God is a concept for you, then he’s more like a self-help book or a friend you ask to listen to your wonders and woes. But if God is a living reality, then that transforms you. It changes you and colors every aspect of your life.
Hence, my inspiration for this week’s blog — God At Work.
If you were watching last Sunday’s Studio B hour with Trace Gallagher, you may have caught the piece I did on a book called “God at Work: The History and Promise of the Faith at Work Movement,” by David W. Miller. It’s a fascinating book and a fascinating subject. The book talks about a growing grassroots movement of regular folks that don’t want to separate their spiritual selves from their secular, everyday work selves. So, they might take part in a group Bible study or a Torah class … or take time out just to pray and reflect on how their job provides an opportunity for a deeper Faith.
Now on the surface it’s easy to think, “Oh, some Bible toting religious fanatics are trying to convert the world.” Ahem, well not exactly. First of all there are lots of different religions represented in any one work place, and the law protects them. And two, it’s not about businesses becoming faith based, but faith friendly.
David W. Miller certainly has the background to understand both worlds. He now serves as executive director of the Yale Center for Faith & Culture at the Yale School of Divinity. But before becoming an ordained minister, he worked for 16 years in the area of high finance and business. He has a particular interest in business ethics and teaches a course in it. And, let’s face it, with all the scandals these days in the business world (Enron and Tyco just to name just two), perhaps we should be listening more closely to what the ethics guys are saying.
Miller says the argument for a faith friendly business environment gets at the heart of who people are. Businesses should understand that people are complex beings whose character is shaped by their culture. And a big part of culture is faith or religion, and the values that come with it.
He says there are four different ways people can bring their faith to work. One is through their ethics. Many religious teachings talk a great deal about the way we deal with people in the market place. Unfortunately, laws and sanctions provide only the minimum for ethical standards. Even then, people can slide into the gray areas of what’s right or wrong. Just because something is legal doesn’t make it ethical or moral. For that, a higher standard is required.
The second way to bring faith to work is how you experience your job. Is it just means to an end, a way to pay the rent? Miller says, “Businesspeople today want to find moral meaning and purpose in their work. Regardless of job level or salary.” The Bible has a verse talking exactly about that: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 2:8
(Of course one question would be, what if you don’t believe in God? And that’s a good question that I would need another blog in order to answer. But answer it I will, in the future.)
The third way of bringing faith to work is to make sense of a seemingly senseless environment. Miller says, “Let’s face it, the business world is hard and a lot of times people are hurting and their faith can help heal them and give them sort of spiritual nurture and spiritual succor and encouragement.”
In more plain language, faith can help you deal with an impossible boss, a difficult co-worker, or stress like an incredibly unfair experience. It helps you order your priorities and understand better the big picture of what life is about.
And the fourth way of bringing faith to work is the least likely to happen, and that would be evangelizing … actually talking to people about your faith. But a friend of mind who works for a large financial institution probably said it best. He always uses a variation on a quote from American Evangelist Dwight Moody: he says, "One person may read the Bible, but a hundred people will read the Christian."
I take that to mean, we are all walking examples of what we believe. And what you believe doesn't end when you lift your head from prayer. That's when it begins.
Lauren Green serves as a religion correspondent for the FOX News Channel. Prior to this, Green served as a news anchor for “Fox and Friends,” where she provided daily news updates and covered arts for the network. You can read her complete bio here.