As Christians with secular art careers, one of the things that we’re constantly thinking about is:
How do we interact with the people we encounter on our jobs; many of whom don’t live or believe as we do?
The reality is we do the whole art life and career thing with people of all kinds of beliefs, lifestyles, attitudes, and perspectives. Some of them live a completely opposite life than us in every possible way. How are we to act around them?
How are we to interact with them?
And, how much interaction should we have with them at all?
These are all questions that we face as Christians living and working in secular society.
And in trying to navigate this, we have thoughts flooding our minds from different fronts.
We have the church asking us how many people we’ve gotten saved or brought to church this week?
We have societies perceptions of Christians as being pushy and judgmental, weird, and just plain disconnected with everyday life.
And, we have our own thoughts about not wanting to be pushy, not wanting to be weird or put in a box, not really knowing how to talk to people about our faith.
We don’t want to turn people off or make them uncomfortable, but as a Christian, aren’t you supposed to be trying to find an “in” to the faith conversation with people?
And then there’s the uneasy pressure of feeling like you have a quota to meet, and dealing with the guilt when you don’t meet it.
It’s alot. It is a lot. And all of these things are shooting through our minds to varying degrees as we encounter the many kinds of people on our jobs.
So, let’s tackle this through two questions:
1.What is our responsibility as Christians concerning the people we encounter? And, in light of that responsibility, how do we interact with them?
So…what is our responsibility? To answer that, let’s go to the bedrock of our approach to evangelism, the great commission: Matthew 28:19. I’m going to read the King James version: It says,
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”
Now, we can go very deep into what that means, but for the purpose of our conversation, I want to focus on one thing. The verse says “go ye therefore, and teach all nations.” But, in other translations of this verse, it says go and make disciples.
Our Christian history is rife with people who, very zealously, took up this charge, who’ve trampled humanity all over the globe trying to make them serve God through violence manipulation and other horrible means.
But when I think about it, there is no precedent in the Bible where anyone is ever forced to serve God. Now, you do see places in the Old Testament, before grace through the Cross, where people who did not serve God got slaughtered. And they got slaughtered when they were either in the way of God’s plan, when they were directly opposing God’s plan, or when they were threatening God’s people.
But to my knowledge, and please email me and correct me if I’m wrong about this, but to my knowledge there is no precedent for anyone in the Bible ever being forced to serve God.
So, from this we know what our responsibility is not: it is not our responsibility to force, manipulate, guilt, or scare anyone into serving God.
Now, I want us to look at Matthew 28:19 in light of Mark 16:16 (NKJV).
“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
This verse says “he who believes and is baptized” – that person (who believes) will be saved. And, if we pair this with Matthew 28:19, the person who believes is the person you make a disciple out of. You teach and make a disciple out of the person who believes and is baptized.
These two verses are not just talking about forcing people to say I believe God. They’re about teaching people to be living, walking doers; to be people whose life is a constant exercise and manifestation of belief in God. But the people you teach to do that are people who have, themselves, made the decision to come into this way of life. The bottom line is that this is voluntary.
So, if being in relationship with God is voluntary, and even God respects our freedom to choose Him or not choose Him, what is the Christians responsibility regarding the people we encounter?
Simply…it is to be, and to be led. That’s it.
The relationship with God that you are in is something that you entered into voluntarily.
You made a choice to live your life for God.
The people around you, on your job, have not made that same voluntary choice.
They have not agreed to live their life for God like you have.
And that’s their right.
They have a right given to them, by God Himself, to live their life however they choose to live it.
Now, there will come a time where everyone of us will have to account for how we’ve lived our life; but for the time being we each have a choice in how we live it.
So, you made the choice to live your life for God, and they did not.
And in you choosing to live your life for God, you also agreed to live, and not live, in a certain way.
But it’s unfair for you and I to hold other people, who did not choose what we chose, to those same standards and expectations.
It’s unfair to expect them to fall in line with something they never signed up for.
It is not our responsibility to be the conduct police and let people know when they’re behavior is not honoring God.
Because they never agreed to honor God in the first place.
So, your first responsibility is to just do you.
Their conduct is none of your business, and it has no bearing on how you live or the standards you live by.
Just live the way you’ve agreed and decided to live, and honor their right to do the same.
But, isn’t our job as Christians to share the gospel, and pray for people, and lead them in the prayer of salvation?
Yes it is.
Think about it. We read about all of the people that Jesus preached to, that He performed miracles for; but think about all of the people that He passed by. For all of the people that Jesus did minister to, there were many, many other people that He did not minister to, and just passed by.
In John 5:19 Jesus says most assuredly I say to you the son can do nothing of himself but whatever he sees the father do. For whatever he (that is the father) does, the son also does in like manner.
In John 1249 Jesus says I do not speak on my own authority. The father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it.
Jesus was the very word of God. But In John 14:10, he says The words I speak are not my own but my father who lives in me does his work through me.
Yes, Jesus was the very word of God. But he understood that it was the Father working through Him that was affecting people. Just like Jesus, our words and effort, without the Father working through them, will produce nothing.
It’s not what you and I do, or say, that gets people healed, and gets them saved. It’s what we do, with God’s backing, that brings salvation, healing, and deliverance into people’s lives. And God will back you when you do what He’s led you to do, where He’s led you to do it.
Not your words, not your actions.
And if you try to do the “Christiany” things without God, they will be ineffective.
So, you have to be led when you talk to people, about when you talk to them and what you say to them. The Holy Spirit will let you know when someone’s heart and mind are primed and open to receive Him. And He will lead you in what to say to them.
If He puts someone on your heart, but doesn’t tell you to go talk about faith to them, then you simply carry them in prayer until He does release you, if He ever releases YOU to do it.
You might be the one to intercede for them, but God might have someone else who will actually go and speak with them.
So, your responsibility, as a Christian regarding other people, is to do you, let them do them, and let God lead you on when and how to do anything more than that. That’s it
Well if that’s it, what do I do with them in the meantime?
You go out to lunch with them, talk about sports, their kids, invite them to dinner, go see a movie. Live life, get to know them, human to human.
Be the presence of God in their lives constantly salting, fragrancing, loving, and providing light for them. Let your life preach.
Let your life share the gospel.
Let your life and the peace you walk in be an oasis for them.
Let how you treat them, how you inspire them – let that be what pulls them toward God.
And be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading in how you interact with people, both saved and unsaved.
The Holy Spirit will guide you in where you should and shouldn’t be, who you should be around and who you shouldn’t.
He’ll let you know the motives of people
He’ll let you know when you’re in over you’re head
He’ll let you know when something’s coming or about to happen.
He’ll let you know when you should not be in a certain place in a certain time
But you shouldn’t be afraid of being around people who don’t believe like you. That is why God has you there – on that tour, in that company, on that set, in that gallery – to contribute the Kingdom perspective to the conversation.
And not everyone is going to bite. God knows that. And you should go ahead and rest in that.
The whole world is not your responsibility.
You are only responsible for the people God puts in your heart.
Does this give you some desired guidance? Where have you grappled with these questions?
Here is a link to a free pdf called The Ministry in your presence, about how our presence brings ministry into an environment without us even having to speak.