Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hated: On the Job - Christ in You

Hatred and animosity in the workplace toward Christians has been on the increase for several decades now. I have been at my current place of business now for nearly three years and in that time I have met most of the employees and even taught company training classes to all in the IT environment. Although I cannot say I have experienced any rash treatment because of my faith as of yet, what I have noticed is I am avoided. I'm not a "fly on the wall" in the rooms of gossip but I know for sure I have been a topic of conversation. This post is to encourage you to run the Race of Faith with endurance!

Your faith is always evident in your speech
A few months back I was asked to bring a class for the entire company. For greater impact I decided to ask a former instructor to come down from Chicago. When the day arrived I stood up and without hesitation introduced him to the entire IT department as Brother Jim!! Wow! I couldn't believe it. The audience was kind of shell-shocked and not a peep was made. I then told them his full name and that I was a local Christian pastor. Jim stood up and smiled referencing His faith in Christ and mine as well. That was totally unplanned especially to the 35-40% Muslim and Hindu of the audience of 100. But I am thankful that the Lord allowed it to happen for His glory. But, other than snubbing and being ignored, there have not been any harmful repercussions. But that has not always been the case.

Should a Christian print Playboy?
A few years back I was working at an unnamed company which had as its purpose the printing of literal "junk mail." As a background, I had moved in to the city as an unknown and had no family or friends for a distance of 2000 miles. This job was my only source of income so it was important that I maintain it to pay the bills. As a believer I immediately began making friends and as time permitted I would share my faith. One day when I arrived for work I noticed that the person on the day-shift had setup a job on my press for Playboy magazine! Boy was I taken aback. Never had I envisioned that at work, I would have to make a decision to proceed or desist in the name of Jesus. You may know the feeling--it's when your stomach feels like an open chasm. But we must remember, Christ calls us to take up our cross and follow Him, and this situational cross, all four colors and full figured, was staring and taunting me to hit the run button and ignore the consequence.

The first thing that came to my mind was, “Why me, Lord”? Then I quickly thought of all those I had witnessed my faith too, which practically speaking, was the whole shift. As I gazed out toward my co-workers it seemed they were well aware of my predicament as they were all staring while some were standing with folded arms, awaiting my response. I knew then that I had to make a decision.

Deciding to choose Christ or choose the world
Decision day had come. Before me was an order for 2,000,000 renewal letters to playboy magazine complete with a full-frontal-nude woman. All those months of witnessing for Christ were now on-the-line. Would I stand or would I fall? My job was at stake. Trust me every bad thing that could happen was flashing before my eyes. I was 2000 miles away from family and had few friends to turn to, if things went south. How would I feed my family if I got fired? How could I face them? More importantly, how could I face Christ if I denied Him and left His witness high and dry?

I decided I needed to speak with Him. I walked the 50 feet to the back of my press and fell on my knees and began to pray. I simply asked Jesus for the strength to stand and the courage to trust Him. I prayed for what seemed like 20 minutes. I got up and walked to my workbench and was met by my shift foreman. His stature was like that of Merlin Olsen, large, strong, and tough. He proceeded to ask why the press was not running. I told him I could not run the job because I was a Christian and I did not feel it was appropriate for me to print those for the glory of God. After all, I would rather obey God than man, Acts 5:29. The fury that mounted up in his eyes was frightening. He started yelling at the top of his lungs giving me every reason I should run that job and if I didn’t I would be fired. He then sent me to the break area.

The audience seemed to be well pleased with the events considering that they were not in any hurry to crank up their machines either. As I went into the break area my body began to tremble and shake in fear. I wept and I wept again. I asked God, “Why me?” No comfort came. Suddenly I was ushered upstairs to the production manager’s office to receive my penalty, my foreman slamming the door behind me, as I walked in. I was then met with another series of expletives which ended with the with the familiar words “Your fi….!” He did not finish his sentence when the door swung open and a very tall, thin, well-dressed gentleman appeared. I have to say I had never seen him before.

God is For those who will stand with Him
When the man walked in, the production manager was startled and be began to look faint--his face became flushed. He then began to stutter and stumble in his welcome. The man simply said, “What’s going on?” He directed the question to the production manager who then proceeded to tell him that I opposed running a job on one of the presses. The man then looked at me and calmly asked “Why?” I explained to him why, he then said without hesitation, “No Problem. I noticed nobody was running press 13, You can move him down there and someone else can run that job.” I was filled with relief. God had come through. 

Later, during a break, I spent the whole time in sobbing tears, still shaken up over the ordeal. But God came through and my co-workers actually became friendlier than they previously had showed. Many even asked me questions concerning my faith giving me an open opportunity to share Jesus. Seed Planters and Fishers of Men is what God has called us to. I may never see the fruit in this life but I know that God was there in a press room arms outstretched tugging on many hearts that afternoon.

It's not easy
No one ever said standing for Christ was easy. But if we do, He will carry us through. The Scripture states in Matthew 10:32 (NKJV):

“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven."

If we are to win this world for Christ it is going to take more than just church attendance. It’s going to take men, women, and children standing firm for Christ in support of reaching others with the gospel.

Who was that tall thin man?
By the way, the gentleman who showed up by surprise in the story, well I am not sure, but I was told he was the President and CEO of one of the largest publishing firms in the nation who was making a surprise visit, having flown in from HQ,  to this subsidiary company. Whoever he was he had authority and God placed him at the right place and at the right time. 

Jesus said:

John 10:27 (NKJV)
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
The key to remember is that Jesus knows those who are His and they will follow Him. It does not matter the situational cross you must bear, bear it with joy, because he is there with you!