I made mention a bit ago of things that make a Christian's witness difficult in the 'real world'. My experience with having a real job has brought that home to me, in ways I'm still not sure how to handle.
For example, I have a co-worker at the print shop who rejects Christianity because she thinks it's anti-women, particularly in regards to what she thinks of as abortion rights and male superiority. So, for her, people in the pro-life movement are by definition unloving and hateful, and since that is the position of many who are Chrisitian, she has no desire to hear about it. The few times I've either brought it up or been around when it was brought up, her reactions have been heated.
Another case at work is of a gay man who thinks the Bible's sexual morals are outdated and do not apply to him, so that when he hears someone point out places where his sexual acts are condemned, he automatically labels them as unloving and has not desire to hear what they are saying, nor even to really be around them.
This is a very difficult situation for me. I work with them, and they work with me, and it's not a large place, so several times a day we must communicate with each other. She is, like me, a designer, and we have many times bounced ideas off of each other concerning our work, and co-designed several projects. He is a manager.
It's not something that is often an issue, at least as far as work goes. But it is an issue, for me. I'm not good friends with either of them, we don't hang out after work, I've never been to their homes nor they to mine. I think that in regards to work we respect each other, and as far as work goes trust each other.
But that's where it begins and ends, and I'm at a loss as to what to do about it.
The thing is, this isn't like a mission's setting. I've been to places in the world where Jesus is either not known about, or very little is known and most of that incorrect. The two people I've mentioned both know about Jesus, and the man was even in seminary at one time before he chose his lifestyle. They're both fairly well acquainted with the Bible and with arguments against their position, they have simply rejected those things or found ways to work around them, and frankly can't stand it when other voices question their claims.
Years ago, back in my youth, there was a speaker at the church I went to with my parents. He made a statement something like this, that if you want to know how a Christian should live, ask someone who's not a Christians. For some reason, that seemed to be a deep insight at that time, particular since it was a very fundamentalist church. His point, I think, was that too often those in the world look at how people in the church act, and see that how some of them act is simply wrong, and it effects their notions of the faith and whether they should listen to people in it.
At the time, I thought it was a very good point; now, I'm not so certain the speaker had a point, or that at least things have changed a good bit since then. If I were to believe and act in ways that my female coworker mentioned above would consider 'loving', I would have to adopt a pro-choice stance and believe that men like myself are pigs. And to do the same for the manager would mean I would have to accept his sexual choices as being as ok and to disregard what the Bible says about them.
This is one of the difficulties. I cannot 'love' in the way that they have chosen to call love, so in that sense I am not 'loving', and so they may tell their other friends about the "hypocrite" who says he's Christian but is so full of hate. And I'm not, but by their definitions I am.
This whole thing has taken on the feel more of a PR battle then of an objective search for what is true and right, and there is no way people like me can win in such a conflict. We rely on the truth, not the spin, and those who find the spin more inviting then the truth will find some way to label us negatively and either dismiss us or denigrate and even try to silence us.
There are far-reaching concerns here, but for me, it's practical--how can I be like Jesus to such people? Do I maybe make the workplace unpleasant by constantly harping on my co-workers sins and wrong positions? Do I remain silent at all times about such things? Do I entertain the idea that maybe the Bible's hard-and-fast moral norms are not applicable anymore?
I reject that last, but the others are more troublesome. All I know is that I'm going to have to go to work, and that I'll be working with them, and that while we will able to work well together if we keep our opinions and beliefs with ourselves, there are issues of eternal importance here, and how can I address those?
Anyway, that week went by with little incident. Work was work, and was busy enough, but nothing big happened at it. After work, I would go home and do whatever. I'm not a big TV watcher, though there are a few shows I follow, as well as wrestling. By Tuesday, I had finished the book, and began to seriously ponder it. Which led me to a few hours on the internet over Wednesday and Thursday evenings. By Friday, I guess I had a good bit for Gus and I to think about, and wondered what he had thought, too.