In the world, not of the world!

There is a concept called “marketplace Christianity” which is defined as the merging of job, ministry, business, and life into one package. Typically many find this to be a foreign concept, as Christianity is compartmentalized into two worlds, being life in church and life out of church. In other words, there are two separate standards for life in and out of church.

On one hand, the marketplace is perceived as business above all, a capitalistic free-for-all to make money, enhance prestige, and earn power. From pop singers to CEOs, we can all imagine how the marketplace works to please our carnal desires for the things of this world. On the other hand, true biblical Christianity evokes an antithetical sentiment. We are demonstrated that it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). We are taught that this earth and everything therein, including money, belongs to God (Psalm 24, Haggai 2:8). We are taught to emulate the sacrifice of Christ for others, even if they are enemies (1 John 3:16-17; 1 Peter 3:9; Romans 12:17-21).

Historically, the blending of religion and the pursuit has been disastrous. When Christianity has been paired with those wanted power, money, land, or business gain (such as the Inquisition or early imperialism in Africa and America), the result has been a blemish on the cross of Christ. Even today, the repercussion of unethical ministry has hurt the testimonies of the majority of ministers who authentically preach the gospel out of a love for people.

However, based on John 17:16-18 we understand that we are in the world but not a part of the world. As we engage with the world around us, especially with business ethics and practice, we can impact the world by demonstrating that fairness, charity, godliness, and Christian ethic can be—and is—a successful model in the business world. As long as we are led by Christ, we can be assured that the path set before us will lead to an abundant life (John 10:10). After all, Jesus didn’t save us to make our lives worse, but to make our lives the best they can be, even if that means in difficulty or seasons of blessing.

Consider this story:

Richard was living out the dream of many people. After building a successful business, he was afforded the luxuries of wealth and extravagance, purchasing over 100 acres of the most beautiful wooded acres in his hometown. He went on to build his dream home on this property, fully equipped with every amenity one could think of—even a rooftop deck to enjoy the view of everything he had acquired.

One Sunday morning he decided to invite his pastor to lunch. They enjoyed a great meal in which they discussed all of Richard’s great accomplishments. Afterwards, they went to explore the property, ending up at the rooftop deck—Richard’s place of pride and joy.

“Pastor, look west. Look north. Look south. Look east” remarked Richard with pride, “I own everything as far as the eye can see!”

The pastor, with a look of wisdom and humbleness, answered while pointing up to sky, “That’s great Richard, but how much do you own up there? After all, that’s the only thing that is going to matter at the end.”

In sum, it’s ok to run a profitable business or have a great job as long as we remember the God who has given us the power to do what we do (Deuteronomy 8:18). In the end, he won’t measure your earthly gain, but will measure your heart and how much of it you gave to him.

Have you surrendered your heart to Christ? With everything?