Paul is one of my favorite Biblical characters. He was bold, yet loving – a disciplinarian with a compassionate heart.
The Pauline letters are usually my first stop when seeking guidance: I often look to his letters for spiritual understanding in my confusingly murky world. Sometimes God’s will is about as clear as mud, but Paul has a subtle way of comforting my restless heart.
Paul had a fatherly relationship with the early Christian church. He loved them, but his letters served a purpose: disciplining and gently curbing early Christian behavior that was misguided, like any other loving father would. Unless you were a Philippian (the golden child of the early Church), if the Roman Pony Express dropped a letter on your doorstep, you were in for words of discipline and sometimes a healthy dose of scolding.
The Colossians weren’t any different. Like many Jewish Christians at that time, they held onto Old Testament laws and Jewish custom. They succumbed to earthly desires and had a difficult time understanding that Christ reigns supreme in their life and living holy was rooted in love, not fear or duty. Paul’s letter to the Colossians was meant to identify their misguided thinking, but first he lifted them up, saying:
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints – the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven…(Col. 1:3-5)
Paul thanked God for the Colossians and commended their faith, even though they were being led stray, away from a life worthy of God. Paul still applauded them for having enormous faith – faith big enough to be heard around the hypothetical Roman water cooler- “we have heard of your faith”.
As I read this passage over my iced espresso this morning, I couldn’t help but wonder:
What do people say about me? Is my faith heard?
Working in Corporate America has its perks (higher salary, weekend availability, and a very large mission field), but there are a few downsides to being a Christian professional:
- Boundaries – I don’t get to talk about Jesus as freely as I could have if I were in full-time ministry.
- Vulnerability – When people hear about my faith, they either treat me like a leper, a science experiment, or a spiritual makeover candidate.
- Gossip – Office gossip is the living worst for a Christian and can be detrimental to one’s career.
When the gossip mill turns around on me, what’s the subject?
I know actions speak louder than words, but actions can spur on words as well – words of encouragement, love, compassion, and kindness. My actions should be incredibly vocal and intensely loud, but my motivation should only come from Christ alone. My faith gives me the courage to speak life and love into someone’s heart. My faith gives me strength to persevere through the challenges of a secular workplace. My faith reminds me of who I am and to Whom I belong.
Like the Colossians, I’m not perfect, but my hope is that others can see God working in and through me – that I, too, have faith like a Colossian.