When I got the job at Putters, I was immediately concerned for how my walk with God would go. Being a little under a month away from starting school as I was then, I knew that I would have a serious issue with time management and I was afraid – with all my school work and hours at Putters – that God would take the back seat. What I found only a couple weeks after school had started, though, was actually quite the opposite. I was more aware of God’s presence than before.
My first two or three weeks on the job were not in any way Godly; I’d work hard and do the best job I could, but I dropped a few cuss words here and there and I frequently played into the theme of crude humor. It was all in good fun – or at least that was how I intended it. But what I couldn’t help but wonder was how God felt about all the things I would say at work. And so I decided to do something a little different. I started reading a chapter from Scripture right before I clocked in.
For a little while I wasn’t aware of the change, but just this past weekend I started paying attention to how often I catch myself right before I’m about to say something vulgar or crude. I started noticing that my own thoughts were even changing. The crude or vulgar humor I would hear from other people (whether at work or at school; it didn’t matter) didn’t seem to have as much of an influence as it had two or three weeks ago. The way I was thinking about things was changing for the better and I was glad. But either Saturday or Sunday I read through Hebrews 5. More specifically, I read through 5:12-14:
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
This passage struck my attention not by any moral conviction or any realization of sin, but because I wanted to be that mature person; that follower of Jesus who remains constant and steadfast from work to school to church and back home. Being a Christian does not mean waking up a little earlier every Sunday morning to catch a good service, smile to a few people, shake some hands, and then get lunch with everyone else. No, it means something so much deeper, so much more intimate. It means reflecting Christ’s teachings, Christ’s love, and Christ’s commandments at every step of the way – even when no one is around you.
I understand that for some people, their schedule is just so busy that they can only really spend any time with God at church on Sunday morning and I don’t mean to cast that as a negative thing; certainly it’s a great thing. What I am trying to target, though, is the religious side of Christianity. It’s the side that says it’s okay to sign off on all the right doctrines and systematic theologies and put on this Christian front, but then to turn around the next day and live however you want to live. I’ve been there before. I know this kind of lifestyle from firsthand experience. And it took me a long time to realize, but it is not how Jesus lived or how He wants us to live; not even close.
Quite simply, being mature in Christ is recognizing what is evil and what is good and making the decision to represent Jesus, to choose good time and time again. This isn’t some moral teaching, either; it is exclusively embedded within the very nature of Jesus. If Jesus is God and (as Jesus says) if only God is good, then it means Jesus is good as well. In fact it means that only Jesus is good, but that’s touching on a Christology discussion, which would require more time to write about. But my point is this; in order to be a Christ-like person, we must practice the Christ-like characteristics. And that means regularly distinguishing good from evil within our minds and hearts and then accordingly to how Christ would want us to act.
I cannot say that this is where I’m at now or that this is where I’m heading. But I can say that I have a clearer vision of what it means to be a Christ-like person and that I want to be there. Reading a chapter of Scripture before clocking into work has helped to start me out, but it cannot be where it ends. Where it ends is what I do when choosing to either say that crude joke or vulgar word. Where it ends is what I do when choosing to either pass along a rumor I’ve heard or to hold my tongue. Where it ends is what I do when faced with moral decisions.
Our actions are an expression of our faith, period. It does not matter if we’re at home, at work, at church, at the mall, or at the grocery store; what matters most is if we choose to express our faith through our actions. If we choose to do so, then drawing nearer to God will not be a difficult thing. Walking with God is so much more than believing the right things; it’s believing the Right Person and then matching those beliefs with the actions He taught us – He commanded us – to carry out.