See if this real-life example doesn’t sound familiar.
The owners of an automobile dealership were regular church-goers and considered themselves to be pious Christians. However, the sales process they used in the business was designed to be manipulative and had several small lies built into it. They never saw this as a contradiction, believing that Christianity was one thing and business was something else.
They compartmentalized their Christianity to encompass what they did around the programs and activities of their local institutional church and saw their business as outside of that. In their Christianity, they followed the local pastor. In business, they incorporated the best practices of the world.
This approach provided them with some benefits. They ran a financially successful business and were comfortable with that. They were active in their local congregation and enjoyed some respect in that. In short, their approach to business and the Kingdom fit their lifestyle, and they were comfortable in both arenas.
That sounds acceptable until we look a little closer. Peeling back the superficial uncovers a significant problem. It is not what has happened, the problem is what has NOT happened that could and should have.
Had they built Christian principles instead of worldly values into their sales process, thousands of customers would have seen what it was like to be dealing with an organization grounded in love and expressing itself in honesty and integrity. Those customers would have been touched by a subtle witness of what it means to be a Christian. But, unfortunately, they weren’t.
Had they built Christian principles instead of worldly values into their business, hundreds of employees would have seen that Christ is real and involved in the business and would have witnessed that impact on the lives of the owners and the actions of the principals. They would have seen acts of love and times of prayer. Christ would have become real to their employees, and many would have been attracted to the peace and hope that they saw in their bosses. Unfortunately, they didn’t.
Had they been guided by the Holy Spirit in all their business decisions, the business’ reputation in the locality would have gradually developed, so that their Christian witness would have grown and impacted their colleagues, their vendors and neighbors. Instead of the message portrayed by the media that Christianity is for uneducated and ignorant people, they would have seen living proof of just the opposite. Unfortunately, they didn’t.
Had they focused on building a business that had impact for the Kingdom, they would have gained visibility and influence in their industry among their colleagues. At the national associations, they would have been asked to be on the committees that made recommendations and decisions and to sit on the panels at the national meetings. These would have given them opportunities to be a model and a witness to the power of Christ in their businesses. Their influence would have spread nationally within their industry. Alas, they didn’t.
Had they seen their business as an extension of the Kingdom and their own anointed ministry the owners would look forward to that day when they meet Christ, and he may say to them, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with the business that I created and put in your hands to manage. You have multiplied its impact and used it to extend my Kingdom. I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness. “
All of this could and should have come to pass, if the owners had seen their business as a ministry – an integral part of their Christian walk – instead of something separate and apart from it.
While this is incredibly sad for this one business, when you consider the impact of this separation of business from the Kingdom across all the similar businesses over time and around the world – the thought becomes staggering – incomprehensible.
Surely, millions of people would have come to know a blessed relationship with Christ, and never did, because the owners’ compartmentalized Christianity and business. In a lost world, populated with people looking for a solution for their pain and problems, they remained silent and aloof.
The world today would be a vastly different place if Christian businesspeople hadn’t sat on the sidelines. This, truly, must be one of Satan’s greatest accomplishments.
While the owners enjoyed their comfortable life-style and false sense of piety, they unwittingly helped to propagate one of the greatest failures in Christianity, and in so doing contributed to a lie that has withheld Christ from untold millions of people.
The lie that they have helped propagate is this: Christianity is one thing, and business is something else.
One of the biggest lies in Christendom is this: Christianity is one thing, and business is something else.
Ultimately, the underlying cause is the effective work of our adversary.
“Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6: 11 – 12.
On another level, the religious establishment has long promoted the separation of ‘sacred and secular’ and bares much blame. At the same time, the purveyors of the worldly wisdom that holds money and success as the highest good have also influenced millions of Christian business people. Let’s look at each.