There’s been considerable discussion about how – and even if – spiritual faith should intersect with how a privately owned company should be run. What's God got to do with it, right? The question has even reached the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.
I’m not the person to weigh in on this issue from a legal perspective, but a broader concern is involved here. We often hear religion or faith described as “personal,” as if it’s something to stored away and dragged out only at appointed times and special occasions. “Faith is faith, and work is work, and never the twain shall meet” seems what society would have us believe.
This type of thinking often manifests itself in all strata of society, including the Oval Office. When President Obama discusses issues of faith, he often uses the term “freedom of worship” rather than “freedom of religion.” This distinction is significant.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is very specific in guaranteeing freedom of religion, and to me this is very different from freedom of worship. In the minds of many, worship is an isolated religious activity, removed from the flow of everyday life. To them it takes place in a church, synagogue, temple, mosque or other worship center – set apart from daily realities.
|An ornate cross on a tabletop or desk|
might be reflective of one's belief,
but genuine faith requires action.
This might suffice as “religion” for some, but many people sincerely find their beliefs influencing every aspect of their lives. Frankly, I cringe when people call me “religious.” To me that sounds rigid and superficial. I prefer being considered very spiritual, my spirituality being informed by the Bible.
There was a time when I, too, confined my religious/spiritual activities to an hour or two on a Sunday, only to spend the rest of the day – and remainder of the week – living as if there were no God. I’d attend worship services, then get frustrated in the church parking lot because people in front of me were slow in exiting. They were making me late for the football game on TV!
Then a discovery transformed what I believed: God was not a deity who’s “out there,” distant and unknowable, but Someone desiring an up-close-and-personal relationship with me. This meant much more than having my sins forgiven and receiving the promise of eternal life. It meant a new way for living each day, gaining God’s power to pursue life as He desired. God didn’t just want a sliver of my life, an hour or two each week. He wanted all of me, including my work.
Years ago a friend introduced me to Acts 17:28 which states, “For in him (Jesus) we live and move and have our being.” This means more than having a different mindset; it also involves changing our “modus operandi” – our method of operation or way we do things.
One of the curious aspects of Westernized thinking is we can claim to believe one thing and then unapologetically act in contradiction to that belief. However, the Bible clearly teaches true belief means acting upon what you believe. “In the same way, faith by itself, if it not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17).
Over the years I’ve met hundreds of business and professional people, devoted followers of Jesus, whose thinking and actions are shaped by principles and truths they’ve learned in the Bible. They can’t separate their professional lives from their faith any more than they could remove their heads and continue walking.
The apostle Paul stated, “…I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). This is true for every genuine follower of Jesus. Spiritually, His life is manifested in us and He affects every dimension of our being.
It’s not a matter of being “religious,” or of worship for that matter. It’s a matter of living out the values and convictions Christ has given us – and this includes the workplace, whether we’re business owners, top executives, or simply employees.
To do otherwise is truly hypocritical.