It wasn’t until December last year, that I paid my first visit to a post office last year—that got me thinking: every day, we use words like email, laptop, mobile phone, digital. But when I graduated from college just 4 decades ago, these words were unheard of. We are all very much aware of the rate the world is changing.
When evening comes, you say, “It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,” and in the morning, “Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.” You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. –Matthew 16:2-3, NIV
As the world is changing so must our ways of sharing the Gospel. Traditional missions tend to see the world as being built around walls. Missionaries are sent out to share the Gospel by over-coming walls and building bridges over these divisive walls. Missionaries look for ways to “contextualize” or “connect” or “build bridges” with Muslims, so as to make the Gospel understandable in what is an unbiblical or foreign culture.
CHANGING our ways of engagement
Just as there’s a gap between the average Christian’s once-a-week church activity and living Christ’s life in the workplace, there is a gap in missionary efforts to contextualize the Gospel with locals. Evangelism should not be an activity that we “perform” periodically, but a constant outflow of our daily routine. When our life in our workplace is the same as our life in the church, we reflect His Glory and release a wholeness and a harmony which fulfills our God-given mandate to glorify God in all we do (Colossians 3:23).
Jesus ministered in the marketplace. Jesus ministered in the synagogue. So should we. But the culture won’t be transformed unless it happens through us. When we live out the life of Christ in the workplace, we live out our faith in a naturally connected contextualized way. Professionals working cross-culturally don’t need to build bridges into the community because our jobs imbed us in the community. If we are working a job, we don’t need to look for ways to “connect” or “contextualize” as our jobs effortlessly connect and contextualizes us. Our position in society is understandable to people, making our life and witness more understandable as well.
Muslims, Christians, everyone, no matter the job or employer, can grasp God’s authority and power when they see work done in a way that glorifies Jesus. Having a job is a holy invitation to claim lives for the Kingdom.
CHANGING our world
The world is changing. Our message is still the same, but our means of delivery must change with the times. This is what Jesus exhorted us to do in Matthew 16:2-3. My new book is now available on Amazon. This is the first of three books written on the changing times and how the church, missions, and the way disciples of Jesus need to adapt. If you’d like to know more, please pick up a copy of Workship: Recalibrating Work and Workship.
Meanwhile let us not focus on the methodologies and traditions of the church, nor find purpose in the issues of the times. Rather, let us set our minds on things above (Colossians 3:2) listening, understanding and then pursuing His glory both in and through our lives.
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.