The Christian doesn’t have to move an inch
to help evangelize the world. Each person can serve God and spread
the love of Christ in his place of work, no matter what his job is.
At work, Christians can explain their faith to others confidently
and give attractive examples of the Christian life—even in just
doing their jobs well. Harold Burke-Sivers writes that in such activity
Christians can imitate Christ and participate in the evangelizing
mission of the Church during every day of work.
It's not easy being a Christian in the workplace.
Secular ideology is so pervasive in the professional environment that
we often have a difficult time fitting into the culture of the office.
Many of us simply "go with the flow," choosing to participate in the
promotion of secular thought and values rather than risk being ostracized
and ridiculed by defending the absolute truth of Christianity and
the moral certitude of the distinctively Christian vision.
It's easy to see why. How many times have you been
involved in conversations with co-workers who staunchly promote the
"great goods" of pornography, spousal infidelity, contraception, masturbation,
in-vitro fertilization, sterilization, population control, euthanasia,
abortion, etc., and you are the only one speaking out for the truth?
One of two possibilities will result from defending the faith:
(1) We will be placed in a very uncomfortable position
by those whom we see and work with everyday. We may suddenly find
ourselves excluded from impromptu "water cooler" conversations or
after-hours activities. We may even become the brunt of insensitive
jokes and hurtful, sarcastic remarks made behind our backs; or
(2) We may stir something deep within one or two
of our friends: Maybe the lapsed Catholic who has been struggling
with how to talk to her daughters about sex, or the man whose obsession
with orgasm is causing his marriage to suffer, or maybe even the relativist
who's been contemplating the meaning of life. One of them may pull
you aside, while no one else is around, and ask you a few questions
about what you believe and, more importantly, how you are able—in
the midst of such adversity—to faithfully live out what you
In embodying a Christian spirituality at work,
we become the evangelizing Church in the world and play a crucial
role in the reconciliation and conversion of humanity. Our mission
in the world, through which we derive our full identity as laypersons,
is "to seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and
ordering them according to the plan of God. Through baptism, the lay
faithful are made one body with Christ and are established among the
people of God. They are, in their own way, made sharers in the priestly,
prophetic, and kingly office of Jesus Christ" (Lumen Gentium,
Herein lies the essence of Christian spirituality
in the workplace. The laity are united to Christ and share in his
priestly mission through "the offering they make of themselves and
their daily activities" (Christifideles Laici, n.14). This
offering should be united to Christ's offering in the Eucharist "for
their work, prayers, and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married
and family life, their daily labor, their mental and physical relaxation,
if carried on in the spirit—and even the hardships of life,
if patiently borne—all of these become spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (Lumen Gentium, n.
The lay faithful share in the prophetic mission
of Christ through "their ability and responsibility to accept the
Gospel in faith and proclaim it in word and deed without hesitating
to courageously identify and denounce evil" (Christifideles Laici,
n.14). Laity also exercise their kingship "above all in the spiritual
combat in which they seek to overcome in themselves the kingdom of
sin, and then to make a gift of themselves so as to serve in justice
and charity" (Christifideles Laici, n. 14).
The proper role and vocation of the laity is found
in their universal call to holiness, their state in life, and their
vocation within the temporal order. "This is especially true in the
primary areas of evangelization and sanctification" where laity provide
"consistent witness in their personal, family, and social lives by
proclaiming and sharing the Gospel of Christ in every situation they
find themselves, and by their involvement with the task of explaining,
defending, and correctly applying Christian principles to the problems
of today's world" (Instruction Regarding the Collaboration of the
Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priest, Premise).
The prayer and sacramental life of the Christian,
while prior to the active life, has to be intimately connected with
it. Therefore, professional and family life, lived in the presence
of God, should be the overflow of the interior life. "Awareness that
man's work is a participation in God's activity ought to permeate
... even 'the most ordinary, everyday activities. For, while providing
the substance of life for themselves and their families, men and women
are performing their activities in a way that appropriately benefits
society. They can justly consider that by their labor they are unfolding
the Creator's work ... and contributing, by their personal industry,
to the realization in history of the divine plan'" (Laborem Exercens,
n. 115; cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 34).
Jesus calls us to be perfect as the heavenly Father
is perfect. This "perfection in Christ" that we seek in faith must
integrate the spiritual and temporal dimensions of the human person.
As such, lay people are to become as competent as possible in their
individual disciplines and professions, bringing the truth of the
Gospel and the natural law to bear on the temporal order. "The lay
faithful must accomplish their work with professional competence,
with human honesty, with a Christian spirit, and especially as a way
of their own sanctification. Moreover, we know that through work offered
to God, an individual is associated with the redemptive work of Jesus
Christ, whose labor with His hands at Nazareth greatly ennobled the
dignity of work" (Gaudium et Spes, n. 67).
Copyright Harold Burke-Sivers