Saturday, January 27, 2007

How to survive at work

So like nearly everyone out there, I work in an organization that is not openly Christian. This includes pretty most all workplaces except churches, Christian schools, and the occasional bookstore. How do we make it through the day, hold fast to our faith, and yet maintain the impartiality that is required for our career?

I will admit to often having a hard time with this. Where I work we have a tight-knit group, folks that I really consider friends, not just co-workers. So, we tend to have some conversations that go well past the weather and the latest ludicrous decisions of those running our organization. (Although management bashing is a fun pastime, isn't it?) When the discussion gets to religion, as it often does, I am the token Christian in the group, and expected to provide many answers to some difficult questions. I work among scientists who tend towards atheism, although many are "practicing" Jews and Muslims. I say "practicing" because there is clearly no faith, only tradition and behaviors. (This they openly admit.) How do I explain faith to scientists? Faith is this thing you can never see, never prove, only sometimes feel, and yet you always have. Just typing that out almost confuses me.

I struggle the most with defending my beliefs when confronted by the strongest objectors to religion. Like when people make absolute claims such as "there is no God." They don't seem to understand that making such a statement requires as much or more faith in science than any Christian has in God.

Mostly I live by the overused motto that actions speak louder than words. It does no good to get angry or defensive. To scientists who need to see to believe, I try my best to show them what faith can do. I can't describe this very well other than to say that it is simply an attitude I try to exhibit every day, all the time, an attitude the I hope Jesus approves of. Peace (shalom, really). Turning the other cheek. Self-sacrifice. Genuine care and concern for others. It's all there in the Bible. Do I always succeed? It would be arrogant to say yes. Do I always try my best? Yes, it is the least I can do compared to Jesus who did so much for me and you.

Do you share some of these struggles? How do you overcome them?


Sunday, January 14, 2007


Why "shalom" as a sign-off? Shalom is Hebrew for something like "peace unto you." But I think it is more than we typically mean when we would say that in English. (At least American English, apologies to my friends across the pond.)

In English, peace generally means an absence of war. The first three definitions of peace from are:

1. The absence of war or other hostilities.
2. An agreement or a treaty to end hostilities.
3. Freedom from quarrels and disagreement; harmonious relations.

Shalom conveys a much deeper experience. Shalom is the peace of God that envelopes and surrounds you. It isn't that you are not at war with your neighbor, but rather that you are at peace with yourself and with God. I can't say it any better than this:
    Saying shalom purposefully means to offer a peace treaty, a pledge to live for the other’s well-being, a covenant to desire and seek the good life of God’s favor together. (1)
So be at peace, and of course, Shalom!

(1) Metzler, James E. From Saigon to Shalom. Scottdale, PA: Herald Press, 1985. Found in an article by Peter Kroeker on