Come to the Light

Last week I was busy counseling at work. No, I am not a professional therapist. But my co-workers frequently approach me with personal problems and questions. One day last week, three different people came to me with needs. These interesting encounters continually remind me that in the ordinary experiences of life every one of us can bring the light of Christ to those in darkness.

Immediately after lunch break, one person came to my work area, faced me square-on and said, “I need to vent.” He proceeded to unload the burden of his 13 year-old son, who lived his first seven years in severe neglect, then was given foster care and later adopted by my co-worker friend and his wife. He has shared the burden of his son with me several times before, but this time he had just received a call from his wife about a potential crisis that was developing. I listened carefully. As he turned to leave I assured him that I would be praying for him and his son while I worked.

Later our team leader, a very self-confident person, stood in the same place and discussed a problem from that morning. Our supervisor was unfairly blaming him for an error. He wanted to know how he should have responded. I needed to acknowledge a legitimate grievance without “scoring points” with my co-worker at my boss’s expense. Having had similar grievances at another job, I presented the attitude that the Lord has taught me from I Peter 2:18-25.

The third opportunity came shortly after the announcement of our company Christmas party. In the chatter that ensued, one of the first topics of discussion was whether our company would be providing alcoholic drinks.  It was quickly decided that no Christmas party would be complete without plenty of booze, so we could rest assured. As it turned out, our company bought one drink per person.

To my surprise, a co-worker turned and asked me if I would be drinking. This surprised me because he could have guessed the answer based on what he knew of me. What was even more surprising was the reason he asked. It was not that he wanted my drink. It turns out that he had battled drunkenness in his recent past. He was hoping that I would sit with him at the party to give him the moral support to abstain. So I did. Someone else got my drink, but my friend and I enjoyed each other’s company—sober .

We are needed where the darkness is greatest. This means spending more time with people who drink, use bad language, like crude entertainment, come from broken homes and/or are in them, or perhaps have just left church and don’t want to go back. Speaking from my own experience, I enjoy every one of my friendships with non-Christians, including my co-workers, for their own sake. I have found these relationships very fulfilling and challenging to me in a good way.

But these kinds of friendships can make many uncomfortable; maybe a little scared. So we stay in comfortable places with our Christian friends. We shine our light where it’s needed the least.

Eileen Berry from Bob Jones University’s SoundForth Music has written a song that captures the attitude that we must relearn. It’s called “Come to the Light.” This beautiful new song captures the essence of our message. Why not take this winsome message to those around us with confidence and joy? Here are some reasons to do so.

Our ultimate victory has already been secured.

We have the personal permanent presence of the Holy Spirit of God everywhere we go.

Underneath the surface of others’ lives, there is a lot of pain and brokenness. (Sometimes it’s right on the surface).

We have the realistic view of the cause of this pain and brokenness: our sinfulness.

We have the only permanent remedy for this problem: God’s forgiveness.

We go to others with humble confidence because God has forgiven us.

We have received the gift. We are inviting others to share it.

We have left the darkness and now walk in the light.

Our invitation is, come to the light!

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3 Responses to Come to the Light

  1. Jane Horvath says:

    I enjoyed reading your article. Ten years ago after working 27 year in totally Christian atmospheres, I went to work for an international corporation. It has been a great experience to be able to bring light into darkness. It has not always been comfortable for me to be with my co-workers hearing their language and being in the places where they go, but it has opened opportunities to be light. I am thankful for the opportunity and for the friendships I have formed.

    Like

  2. Tina says:

    Stephen,

    Thank you for this post and describing REAL situations that we face in the secular workplace. I very much agree with your idea that we with the Light need to spend more time with those who don’t have it. My dilemma, though, is how to do this without being tempted by the same sins that tempt then.

    I went out to a restaurant with some girls from the office a few weeks ago, for the purpose of befriending these girls so at some point I could reach them for Christ. (As I think about it now, after reading your post, my example probably kept a few from drinking, and that’s good.) But I struggled myself with wanting to drink!

    How do I balance making no provision for my flesh and going to where the lost are to reach them?

    Looking forward to your thoughts.

    Tina

    Like

    • Tina,

      You have asked a question that every Christian should be asking. You are putting yourself in uncomfortable situations where God will not only use your witness, but also sanctify and transform you. That is exciting! I have faced this problem myself. It is a tricky issue with no easy answer, but I will take a stab at it.

      First, don’t be a Lone Ranger regarding temptation. Seek God’s grace through fellow believers, especially in your church. Seek the Holy Spirit’s strength through prayer.

      Second, raise fences of protection ahead of time. Identify Christians in your life who support your witness efforts and who are willing to ask you direct questions. Your spouse might be the obvious first choice, but consider one or two other trusted friends.

      Ask these friends to, 1) pray for your specific areas of temptation and 2) regularly ask you about choices you have made in areas of your weakness. Knowing that they will lovingly confront you is a powerful means of God’s grace to strengthen you against temptation.

      I have found our shepherding group in our church to be especially helpful for accountability. It’s a small group of Christians who meet regularly, get to know each other well, feel free to confess their sins to each other, lovingly confront each other, pray for each other and encourage each other. Seek to become part of such a group.

      Third, do honest self-assessment and planning. For example, drinking with your non-Christian friends would undercut the very purpose of your being with them. Rehearse in your mind how the next temptation might look, whether it’s drinking or a different activity. Picture yourself confronting the temptation, thinking about what you would lose if you “went with the flow” or conversely what you would gain by doing the right thing. See yourself making the right choice.

      I had already planned a follow-up post with practical suggestions on how to build bridges to non-Christians. Your question has prompted me to consider making that a two part series including an expansion of my answer here. Please tell me if these thoughts are helpful or if I need to head a different direction.

      Like

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