Drinking Deeply

Monday, September 24, 2007 at 11:42 PM

Living in the world

A friend had a question on if a Christian should take a job that may involve (upon occasion) working for someone that is explicitly opposed to the Christian worldview. (like promoting Wicca)

My attempt at a response -

Paul writes that it is pragmatically impossible to withdraw from all immoral people,for that would mean we would have to leave the world. (1 Cor. 5:9-13) It may not be exactly similar in a workplace, though I think the parallels are clear. If we were to not work for or not be involved with anything that might tangentially be related to something opposed to God, I think it might be difficult to find work.

Can we work for google that accepts money from ungodly websites for advertising? Can we work for ATT knowing that their phone lines allow ungodly businesses to be run?

And that's just those things that seem to be explicitly against God, what about all those closet atheists? That look good on the outside but their hearts are set against God? Even their deeds that the rest of the world considers good are mere idols. Can we work for a philanthropist who believes humanity is the peak of all things and thus really wants to help humans out through money, just so they can achieve their potential?

Pragmatically speaking, it seems like taking a position that would disallow working for a company that may be involved in ungodly activity is impossible. I'm not sure this would make it a sin to withdraw (though one can make the case that it is possible, though difficult, to completely withdraw, a la, the prophets of old and John the Baptist)

But is there a positive example of a man who worked for an organization that actually perpetrated evil? I think there are a few. I'll mention one that I think is clearest.

Daniel and his friends in working for Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel in particular was a right hand man, and this was a king that had captured Israel, enslaved a number of them, and taken stuff from the temple. Coupled with that, we find that the kingdom is described as a great kingdom, one that would rule over other nations (the vision of the statue). One cannot think that this was a very benign rule judging by the possession of magicians as well as their treatment of the Israelites in the beginning.

Yet in the midst of this, Daniel worked faithfully, as for the Lord in the position he was in. It seemed that once he had his first vision, he could have been released, but he accepted the various promotions that the king gave him and the Lord blessed him in his ministry.

Finally, to answer one question that arose in my head as I was thinking through this - What sort of mentality ought we to have if we find ourselves in such a position, where our work does benefit (directly or indirectly) those opposed to God?

I think there are two concepts that come into play.

1) The bible does encourage slaves to be faithful to their masters, without qualifications. It even says to serve them doubly hard if they are believers! (1 Timothy 6:1-2). This is done that they may adorn the doctrine of God (Titus 2:10). Though we are not strict slaves, I think the command to serve those who are above us is the same (we're after all, under contract). Thus I think if we find ourselves in such a position, we be faithful to our employers and do the work they give us in faith (aka, provided it's not sin).

2) Related, I think we can see it as loving our enemies. They don't deserve the work you do to benefit their business, especially since their business is opposed to the glory of God, but your love for them can be a means of 1) converting them, or 2) pouring burning coals. Either way, God wins.

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