HA Alumni I-20 plan - Working in the Secular Work Place
Note: This is a response to a video made by an intern and aimed at interns, about how to work as a Christian in a non-Christian job. I'm hoping that those in our community who are not Christians will also contribute to this discussion, as I know there'll be great points made. Above is a YouTube video for Honor Academy interns, offering advice about working in a secular environment. While I don't doubt the creator's good intentions, my feeling says this video is just one of the many demonstrations that something is broken within Teen Mania Ministries. This is the idea of "love" that infiltrates the internship. These are the ideals that so many teens and young adults who emerge from Garden Valley try to emulate.
I encourage everyone to watch the video and discuss in the comments section. I cannot even begin to list my problems with this video. The division, the elitism, the small mindedness that such a message breeds is so frustrating to see. So this is a wide topic with lots of different points to mention, but I'd like to focus on the idea that working in a secular environment calls for any special preparation or consideration. Frankly, I don't believe it does. I would say that if a Christian has to plan how to behave in a non-Christian environment, they are operating under the oppression of The Law.
Definition--as opposed to separation--between Christianity and the world is a commonly discussed issue among Christians. The Honor Academy strives to create leaders who are set apart from the world. Possibly the most oft-quoted verse about the world is found in Romans:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. -Romans 12:2 (NASB)
In fact, "the world" is referred to repeatedly throughout the New Testament and ascribed to both Jesus and His disciples:
I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. -John 17:14-16 (NASB)
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. -1 Corinthians 5:9-11 (NASB)
What does it mean to be of the world? That might be a good question for Christians to ask before anyone begins discussing how it is that they should live in it. Everything I experienced at the Honor Academy tells me that leadership is afraid that the interns might be seen as worldly. And they pass on that fear to each new crop of interns. My personal conviction is that this is a symptom of hysteria, not the fruit of Love. The world is physical and temporal. Things within it waste away. If we talk about not being of the world, I'm inclined to think we're talking about the idea that we are spiritual beings. Not focused on the material or tangible offerings of life, though we may most certainly still enjoy them. Every one of us will one day die, so it only makes sense that we would want to pursue things like Love, peace, and justice. That we'd care more about our relationships than money or possessions. I don't believe the world refers to Christians versus everyone else, but teachings within the Honor Academy preciselysay that. At Teen Mania, it's easy to distinguish whether or not someone is of the world or of God. Godly people do not drink alcohol, swear, watch R-rated movies, make sexual jokes, or do drugs etc. Godly people "do and don't" to avoid the appearance of evil. It speaks little of a person's heart, let alone Love. If a Christian goes into their workplace with the desire to "save people", they're missing the point of the Gospel message. I have a huge concern when the video focuses on learning how to listen to people and talk about "random" things... because not only is that called being human, but the implication is that decent, kind and respectful behavior has a motive: to win souls for Christ. As the video goes on, it's clear. That's what the point of learning how to work in a secular environment is all about. And that is hardly Love. It's commonly said that Jesus had a reputation among the religious folks of His day for hanging out with immoral people. Most Christians hear the stories about Jesus eating with drunks, prostitutes, money collectors, etc. Supposed people of the world. Pharisees and Sadducees basically accused Christ of being of the world or of Satan, due to the people who surrounded Him and the things He did or did not do which didn't line up with The Law. But this is where Jesus began to teach that there is a spirit of The Law, a spirit of the world, and a spirit of God. You might say his response was all about getting to the heart of a matter and acknowledging that only God can judge a person's motives. Jesus' followers asked Him point-blank what the most important commandment was and He could have said anything. He could have said ALL the commandments were equal. He could have said that being like the world is the worst thing ever and the disciples should never, ever be like the world. But instead, Jesus elevated Love--to love God and love others (loving others was actually a new one) as the most important of all the commandments. Hundreds and hundreds of commandments mind you. I'm pretty sure that if Teen Mania would have also prioritized Love, we wouldn't be here talking about healing from abuse. We wouldn't be talking about how to work in a secular environment. Interns wouldn't have a list of rules to follow and accountability cards to prove they lived for God that week. Global Expeditions missions trips would put on work gloves--not dramas--and they wouldn't be concerned with how many people they could get to say the Sinner's Prayer. At Teen Mania, and unfortunately throughout the Christendom, there is this idea that everything we touch must be sanitized then Christianized. There are Christian bands, Christian movies, Christian clothing, Christian board games, Christian novels... all sorts of inanimate objects somehow become Christian everyday. Yet those outside of the church are supposed to believe that Christianity is really about a relationship with God. That Christian culture is not trying to shove their beliefs down anyone's throat. See the disconnect? Seriously, the advice in this video encourages a very plastic and highly sanitized way of life that Jesus never taught. As a Christian, if you are talking about working in the the world--trust me--you're doing it wrong. You've forgotten that all Christians live in the world and all are called to be lights unto it. Let me be so bold as to say that the light Christians ought to shine is Love and Love alone. What do you guys think? There's a lot being said in this video that I think is worth discussion, that at some point probably affected us all in some way.