Who’s Working Next to You?

Another weekend and another newsreel with a heartbreaking story — this time from Charlottesville, VA. One of the largest white-supremacist rallies in recent history. Counter-protesters standing up against the divisiveness and hate. A car driven into the counter-protesters. 29 injured. 1 dead.

I read the stories, prayed for the situation, and wondered what to do next. Then it hit me.

We work with these people.

It’s easy to see volcanic events like this as “out there,” distant and disassociated from our everyday experience. But the reality is that events like Charlottesville don’t happen in an instant. They culminate after longer periods of time. That time is where the battle is — in the daily, mundane activity and conversations in which our views are being formed and affirmed. Who is forming and affirming those views?

Everybody who was part of the divisiveness or violence in Charlottesville has a story that has shaped them and their beliefs. Most of them are going to a workplace on a daily basis where they could be impacted by someone like us — someone whose story has been redirected by Jesus Christ.

You never know who God has put in the cube next door to you, or which boss He has you under for this period of time. The white nationalist protesters could be cube neighbors, bosses, employees. Could your intentional effort to know and love your coworkers with the love of Jesus be part of God’s greater purpose to shape their views and shift them from divisiveness and hate to love and peace? I believe it could be.

We need to take the call that Jesus has for us to be “peacemakers” more seriously. (Matthew 5:9) Peacemaking does not mean passivity or pretending that problems don’t exist. It means realizing that there is a gap between God’s intention and our current reality, and stepping into that gap.

Most of our opportunity for peacemaking is in the daily familiarity of the workplace — to know and love the individuals God has put in our path.

Being a light at work does not mean that we simply keep a convenient, clean-cut and private faith. It means taking a risk to step into the stories of your coworkers, to realize that God has purpose in every interaction, and many times those purposes have consequences well beyond what we could imagine.

We have to have the courage to step into another’s story. We have to have the courage to be vulnerable with our own. We have to be peacemakers.  

Today, you and I have the privilege of engaging in the incredible mission field of the marketplace, to discover the “good works that God has prepared for us.” (Ephesians 2:10) I am sure that some of those good works involve a relationship. Ask God where He wants you to engage today.

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