The Complexity of Dependence on Threats
Two moments in my past week speak to one important issue.
The first was a conversation over the Bible with our intern Josh Hix. He simply read a famous passage in context, and as he read, a new, path-cutting connection was made for me.
The second happened at Home Depot1. I was on the verge of giving up and paying for an expensive sprinkler repair, when another customer - a sprinkler repair guy - asked about what I was doing. After I told him my problem, he shared two simple details that turned a $500/1 week problem into a $60/1 hour problem.
Chances are, he is not a Christian. Just an expert in his work, who shared that expertise with me. It was a gift. He was grace to me.
God has always designed our work to depend on others outside the faith. Solomon procured materials from God-less nations in order to build God’s temple. Paul bought materials from vendors in Corinth in order to make tents, sell them, fund his ministry, write letters that would become Scripture . . . that you and I would have eternal life.
A complex web. And the faultlines in any culture make negotiating this web of interdependence in work even more difficult. Were any of Paul’s vendors in Corinth Christians? Did not his purchases fund Corinthian idolatry? When they came to know his beliefs, did their relationship change?
You may face similar complexities. The very person you depend on to accomplish your job also organizes the Pride Month activities - which are meant, in part, to “out” those who don’t take part - mainly, the Christians - mainly, you. The same people who are ideologically and personally hostile to you are also a gift to you in your work - simultaneously a grace and a threat.
How to navigate the complexity, faithfully? The choice is to either embrace the complexity, by faith, or resist the complexity, and rely instead on simplistic axioms and assumptions. It seems easier to sit in the cheap seats, blame the culture, and “take a stand” on Facebook. But actually simplism makes it harder on ourselves, especially for those in the arena, seeking a way through.
Wisdom embraces complexity by asking questions. Do you know who (else) in our church faces such complexities? This brings us back to my first moment above. Who will come alongside those in the arena, not making things worse with simplistic axioms and arguments, but longing for God’s wisdom? “What workplace complexities do you face? Shall we prayerfully search the Scriptures, together?”
1 Or, as I more affectionately refer to it this time of year, Home Despot.