“I thought that in this way we were alike, for I had learned to be guarded, too, in conversation. If you cannot talk about the thing that is at the centre of your life – cannot let bits slip out for fear of revealing the entire story – you develop what might pass for a natural reticence, a habit of listening rather than of telling stories yourself.”
This quote (from an Anita Shreve novel) hit me this week. It expressed something I’ve been aware of in my prayer life, but Shreve puts it far more eloquently than I could.
I’ve noticed that if I struggle to talk to God about the things that really matter to me, the things that are deep rooted in my heart, I lose the ability to talk to Him about the things that sit around the edges of them, and then the things that sit around the edges of those things too. Until suddenly, I’m doing whatever the prayer equivalent of small talk is and not saying all that much to God at all. Not a good thing and something I’m working hard to rectify.
But coming across this quote this week made me think about how this affects other relationships as well and how it can affect community.
For me, I try to keep my faith and my relationship with God at the centre of my life. It’s a work in progress, because I’m a work in progress, but that’s the overall aim.
So if I’m in a situation where I don’t feel that I can talk freely about my faith, how does that affect my relationships? How does that affect my ability to get to know people and build community? Do I develop a “natural reticence” and remain “guarded” rather than truly getting to know people?
In Connect: Workplaces, we see our workplaces as communities that we want to serve, in the same way as other Connect Groups look at the areas in which they live. We want to see our workplaces transformed and serve our workplace communities as Jesus sought to serve the communities and people he met during his life on earth.
How do we do that if we are cautious about talking about what our faith really means to us?
The apostle Peter writes, “in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15) It’s the same sentiment, to be able to speak freely about the hope and the faith that we live by, that we hold in the centre of our lives. But how do we do that?
Over the next few weeks, Connect: Workplaces will be thinking seriously about some of the questions we either have faced or might face from colleagues about our faith. As a group, as a mission team in this city, we’re going to grapple with these questions, look at what the Bible says, what we think and how we can communicate that clearly, in the way that Peter encourages us to “with gentleness and respect.”
I don’t think we’re going to have all the answers. We’re not going to resolve all the questions, but my hope is that through this, we will not only strengthen our own faith but we will be better able to speak freely with those we meet at work.
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