The other day I was at the farmers market and there was a man selling necklaces with a hidden cross. The ornament on the chain was a circle made in a bright color with an intricate pattern on it. But if you looked closely at the pattern, you would notice that the center of was actually a cross. Very clever and very pretty and it made me very sad. What kind of world do we live in that people are scared to even wear a cross? The merchant explained to me that there people who work in professions where showing religious emblems is frowned upon. Public school teachers are often the first ones who come to mind (God forbid we dare pray for these troubled children we are given responsibility for) but apparently this is true for some in the corporate environment as well.
It is troubling that there is a group of people whose professions does not allow them to share their faith. Some people in public jobs aren’t even allowed to have a Bible on their desk. But even under these conditions, it is still possible to show Jesus to the people you encounter at work. Bringing Jesus to your job is not about having a venue to preach, but it’s an opportunity to lead by example. If you can’t SPEAK Jesus then you have no other choice but to SHOW Jesus.
Tax collectors from the Bible days are great examples of how you can show rather than tell at your job. “These tax-gatherers were usually Jews and would collect taxes for Rome and it was understood that they were to keep a “fraction” for themselves. There was really no real way to prevent that fraction from assuming great proportions, and in fact fraudulent exactions were encouraged. Although there were some honorable exceptions, the publicans, great and small, were really extortioners….The Jewish people were outraged and regarded them as traitors and apostates. They were considered defiled by their constant contact with the heathen, even Rome’s willing instruments of oppression.” (http://www.bible-history.com/taxcollectors/TAXCOLLECTORSHistory.htm)
When the tax collectors came to John the Baptist to be baptized he explained to them how to balance their redemption and their careers:
12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”
13 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.
14 Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”
He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
Luke 3: 12 – 15
Later in the book of Luke we find the story of Zacchaeus, a tax collector who finds Jesus and sets about changing his ways….
1Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19: 1 – 10
Next time we’ll see what we can learn about workplace happiness from the tax collectors.