May 19, 2017

Struggling for Fellowship

I am going to be a little transparent this week and share that I have been struggling for authentic Christian fellowship.

Now, I have the blessing of being the pastor for a great little congregation of believers that I have the opportunity to talk to on the phone weekly - and I even met with a few this week and prayed with them.  This blog is not about them.  They work full time jobs and, as a tent-making pastor that must supplement my income, I work a full time job as well.  That is what takes a lot of fellowship opportunity away from us together.

But I do find people professing to be Christians around me in my workplace.  And, as I am not their pastor, there is a unique opportunity for true fellowship in the secular workplace with like-minded Christians.  But that hasn't happened for me.  And, I need to be honest, it is extremely discouraging.

I know many Christians who I have a very surface relationship with.  Everything is happy and praise the Lord...until that first inevitable moment when some sort of tension arises.  It may be a philosophical or theological disagreement.  It may be a necessary friction about a work related matter; but no matter what, the mis-informed facade of "be joyful in all things"eventually comes to a point where authenticity must show forth.  And it does.

I have found two things to be rather consistent in my experience.
1)  People who profess to be Christians in the workplace tend to value relationships and "opportunities" with unbelievers they wish to convert higher than relationship with me.  ( Granted, that could be a me issue.)
2)  People who profess to be Christians in the workplace tend to be the most short-tempered and dishonest about their true feelings when tension does arise.

I had a Christian man tell me one time recently when I asked him "why the anger?", that he wasn't angry because it was National Be Happy day, and therefore, he couldn't be angry with me.  I told him in response that I was angry at that, because it was obvious that he was angry by his other words and his nonverbal behavior, and that his response - while attempting to be polite - was dishonest, unhelpful, and nonsense.  He then chided me for being angry because Christians shouldn't be angry.  This same person constantly excused the offensive emotional outburst and ranting anger of another coworker because he didn't want to jeopardize his evangelistic relationship with that lost individual.

Tension happens in life.  People get angry.  People are allowed emotions.  Its what you do with the emotions that makes it right or wrong.

Are we losing our way as an "evangelistic" culture when we feel we have to control the conversation with other Christians in order to maintain a facade of perpetual joy, while allowing conversations with Non-christians to be controlled by them so they feel valued?  Are we losing our way when we value the lost more than the brother and the sister?

Do you value the fellowship of other brothers and sisters in your workplace without compromising on  behavioral standards?  Do you value the connection you have in Christ with another brother or sister over the disconnection you have with a friend who is lost?

That may sound awkward in todays ultra-liberal, western minded worldview, but it's not biblical living that honors Christ's final prayer in John chapter 17.  He gave everything for the Bride to be one as He and the Father were One.  He said we (the Bride - not the saved and the lost together) would be known for our love OF ONE ANOTHER (Christians loving CHRISTIANS).

I wonder - if we slow down and stop trying to make our work, our dreams, our agendas... the purpose for our lives, would we recognize a sudden loneliness?  Is it possible we are becoming an anorexic bride who only thinks she still looks authentically healthy, while everyone on the outside sees the tragedy unfolding but is afraid to speak?

Value your brothers and sisters this week (and always).  But make every effort to show authenticity and value to your brothers and sisters for who they are in Christ (Saved, Redeemed, waiting like you for the fulfillment of the promise to come) despite any shortcomings they may have appeared to have displayed - real or not.  Christ asked for this before He suffered everything.

With you for His glory,