When I first became a Christian, I didn’t know what being used by God really looked like. I guess I believed the stereotype: you have to be a pastor or some kind of teacher for Jesus to use you. There were times growing up when I would go hoop at a recreation center and other times, at a church. While at the church, dudes would say stuff like, “Can’t do that in here man; we in the church” or “Come on man, you can’t cuss like that in church!” There seemed to be a clear distinction between sacred and secular based on whether you were in a building or not.

For the college students out there, and people who are already in the “real world”, you may not want to go into full vocational ministry. That’s okay. Matter of fact, that’s great! However, some Christians tend to make the “sacred” world/“secular” world distinction in their vocation.  You might begin to wrestle with the idea that when you’re at work, you are at work. Period. When you’re at church, that’s when you’re in ministry mode or able to live out the true calling God has for you. What’s the point of your work then? Does it count for anything? Why are you there?

This gets more difficult for college graduates. Once in the “real world”, there is no longer that sense of community they might have once had. Midnight prayer time with their brothers or sisters goes away. It’s real out there. The truth is that God can and will use us anywhere. Once we begin seeing the world through the lens of Scripture, a biblical worldview, the sacred/secular distinction we tend to make crumbles. Ultimately, I think there are at least three ways we can live as Christians in a secular workplace.

1) Engage the Culture

The earth is the LORDs and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein. (Ps 24:1)

Let’s look at my dude Daniel. If you haven’t read that book, you need to. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were advisors for King Nebuchadnezzar. One night Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that seriously frightened him. He requested his magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and the Chaldeans to interpret the dream for him. Since the Chaldeans couldn’t interpret the dream, Daniel stepped up and proclaimed that no man can interpret this dream. He declared that God alone could interpret it. Let me remind you, interpreting dreams was considered a pagan practice back then. Daniel, then, believed that interpreting dreams didn’t have to be evil, but could be used as a way to honor the LORD.

Daniel could have fled the scene and wrote this dream off as a “secular” thing. Instead, he saw his work AS his ministry. While with the king, Daniel advised and impacted him with God’s wisdom. He engaged the king’s culture and actively sought ways to redeem it. How can you engage the culture of your workplace? I’m sure your employer has ethical standards it abides by. Most of these standards boil down to one’s moral character. You can use that as a means of sharing the gospel. Everything belongs to God. Christianity reflects the truth about all facets of our life, not just salvation. Christianity is the truth about love, marriage, family, money, business, clothes, etc… 1 Timothy 4:4 says, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” So it is merely man’s wicked heart that uses creation for evil. The workplace you are at is not evil just because it’s not vocational ministry. Before we try to automatically transform the people and culture of the workplace, I think it’s wise that we understand the people and culture.  Engage!

2) Love the People

This is probably the biggest and most important thing about Christian living. Without love, we are clinging symbols (1 Corinthians 13:1). You can’t truly love a person without knowing them. I can love people from a distance and serve them, but you truly love someone when you have a relationship with them. True love can get gritty: You fail them; they fail you. Chances are that you will see your co-workers more than anybody else throughout your week.  It’s important for us to get to know them, so that they can SEE God’s transforming love in us. That way, when we talk to them about God, they might experience something different from what they might have already experienced with churches they’ve visited.

Don’t be that awkward Christian that no one likes or wants to be around.  Yes, we should be in the world and not of it, but don’t be that guy or gal that folks avoid because they feel condemned around you, or because you act like you “have it all together”. You don’t have it all together and that’s why you trust Jesus. You should have people feeling built up and encouraged around you because you’re full of grace, not torn down because you’re full of law.  The law didn’t save you; grace did through faith.

People want authenticity. People want to be loved and to be known by someone. We were made to be that way. Getting to know someone can be fairly easy. Here are a couple of questions you can start with: Where are they from? What type of movies do they like? What’s their favorite book? Did they play sports in high school? You’ll be amazed at how much people will open up to you, even if they know Who you rep. The work environment is a perfect place to create friendships with a goal of introducing them to the grace of God.

3) Transform

Finally, what does it look like to transform the workplace we are in? We’ve engaged the culture; we’ve built these genuine relationships with people; now we need to see transformation. Having been redeemed ourselves; we must now redeem the culture. That simply means that we must now bring the culture back to God, as we were brought back to God. We do this through sharing the gospel and having a biblical worldview that cuts across all aspects of our lives.

Paul was going through Athens in Acts 17:16 and his spirit was provoked because of the idols in the city. If our hearts are aligned with God’s, then our spirits should be provoked as well. You can’t redeem everything; there are some things that have to be rejected because they actually go against God. Instead of being disgusted and turn away from those things at the workplace, we need to be a vessel to help change the workplace for his glory. One of the ways to transform the workplace is by doing your job well. When someone asks you why you take your job so seriously, you can inform them about Colossians 3:23.

When your co-workers are talking about family, politics, sex, business, law, economics, science, you can speak on these things with a biblical worldview and let them know that it all belongs to Jesus! Christians need to be in “secular” environments to be Christ’s representation there. God uses us as his ambassadors to make his appeal through us. So if we don’t have Christians working in what we call a secular environment, God is not represented there. Jesus Christ bought us with his blood and gave up his life as a ransom for many, not so we can sit on this wonderful free gift, but so we can give this free gift to others and transform every place God allows us to be.

Be encouraged. When Jesus said he would build his church, he didn’t have a building in mind. Instead, he was thinking of us. Whether you find yourself in a cubicle or a corner office, we’re all part of his body. And as his church, we have this promise: Not even the gates of hell can prevail against us.