The theme for this year’s Aldersgate Convention on 22 and 23 May is “Methodists in the Marketplace – Why does my work matter?” A theme like that resonates well with a lot of us as working adults seeking to balance our Christian identity and mission in a secular world – a task made harder as the majority of our waking hours is dedicated to the workplace and overshadows the fraction of time spent in a Christian environment.
The message of the biblical book of Daniel is especially relevant. Hence, the Aldersgate Worship Festival on 21 May will help set the tone for the convention with its theme of “Faithful To The End” based on the book by the Rev Dr Gordon Wong on the life of Daniel.
How is Daniel’s story relevant to us in the marketplace? The Rev Dr Wong notes in his book that from Mondays to Saturdays, the majority of Christians are living and working in the equivalent of Babylon for Daniel – in spiritual exile – in secular, pluralistic environments where our Christian beliefs and values are not protected. We spend a vast amount of time immersed in places devoid of Christian values or worse, environments inimical to Christian beliefs.
The solution is not the absolute rejection of secular society and conventions. The Rev Dr Wong reminds us that Daniel and his friends were willing to conform to certain social demands. The key balancing principle is a distinctive faithful life.
Consider how Daniel and his friends lived a distinctive faithful life despite facing trying situations in a foreign environment.
#1: They demonstrated confident faith.
True biblical faith is confidence in a sovereign God regardless of the outcomes. Daniel and his friends demonstrated this distinctively but with subtlety through their diet challenge, as well as dramatically by enduring immolation, and emerging from the lion’s den unscathed.
We don’t need to be faced with dramatic challenges to demonstrate faithfulness in our workplace. It can be shown when we choose courage to honour God with praise and not fear the perception of others, or when we say no to questionable business practices even if it means financial loss.
#2: They demonstrated consistent faith.
I am awed by Daniel’s exemplary behaviour over more than 90 years of his life. He rose to a high position and yet remained untainted in spirit and behaviour. When his detractors played “dirty” to bring him down, he did not hide or respond similarly. His quiet dignity seems impossible to emulate.
How did he come about that consistent faith? Daniel was consistent in seeking God. “Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” (Daniel 6:10b) Herein lies the source of success – a personal relationship with God built through a constant investment in communion.
Ultimately, the outcome of confident and consistent faith is that God is glorified. Find out how to do so in your workplaces – visit aldersgate.methodist.org.sg, and join us for Aldersgate SG 2016!
Darius Chua is Director of Finance, Administration and Programmes at The Methodist Church in Singapore, and a member of Bedok Methodist Church. He is also the Chairman of the Aldersgate SG 2016 Organising Committee.