Salt and Light in the Secular World

by Clara Lim

In the unlikely corner of a bustling Toastbox and with 5 minutes to spare for my coffee run, I found Jesus. Opposite, my colleague R, extended her hands and gestured, ‘Shall we pray?’. I was moved. Here I was praying week-long for a clear sign of encouragement to not give in to the tidal wave of my self-imposed pressures and insecurities, and the Holy Spirit lead me to R for our blessed (and first!) open chat about faith amidst work. 

Jesus as our source 

I have always been daunted by the word “mission”. In school, even the idea of mission trips never appealed to me, how do I care for others when I myself needed that care?   

Mission begins at the source of our desire, Jesus. We need to first recognise God’s love. Salt comes from the sea, borne out of the depths of God’s love. Light comes from the burst of a flame, like an encounter of God’s love. And within this heart of a relationship with Jesus, bears a relationship with others. Like salt, we preserve and flavour each other’s lives in and with faith; like light, we reflect and radiate the goodness of Jesus. 

Each of us has a mission in life. Jesus prays for His disciples to his Father, saying “As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” (Jn 17:18). Do we claim that we are sent into the world by God, be it at our work stations churning out reports, in front of 40 wide-eyed students, or perhaps, in the clinic dispensing medicine? 

Evangelise by attraction, by witnessing  

“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses” Pope Paul VI

At the heart of our faith is love, and at the heart of love, is Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus draws all to himself by the power of his love, we attract others, by loving them in Jesus. 

Salt preserves and flavours; its purpose is used in its pure form (i.e. authenticity) and it enriches the main dish (other people’s lives). No one will compliment the salt when they enjoy the dish. Likewise, our lives are not just for ourselves. How are we adding that flavour to others? Do we actively seek to share our lives with our peers, reports or bosses at work? 

Light cuts through the darkness to illuminates; we have been blessed with grace to know/see/encounter the truth; the purpose of light is to help others in the house to find/discover Jesus. How have we been illuminating? I reached out to R simply because she was never afraid to show she is Christian; upon closing her business deals, she would unabashedly express aloud “Thank You Jesus!” (even in front of her boss!). And she was ever so ready to ground me in truth when I swayed amidst the waves of doubt, by steadily reminding me “Jesus is your supply”.

 

In my life before conversion, my curiosity was stirred when I saw how friends clung unto Jesus in spite of their heartbreaks, claiming that He is their rock, and carrying themselves with such certainty of hope (which I later discovered it to be joyfulness). It was not an immediate desire to know Jesus, but as I look back, I knew that these moments were lighting my return to Him. 

To be salt and light, we attract others by being living witness in the following ways: 

1. Living out one identity

We are all too familiar with the phrase “work-life balance”. I have long applied the same balance and separation of the spheres of my life to my faith, always wondering how I can balance my faith with work, like juggling 2 balls. But that resulted in me having different faces for different situations in life. I struggled for a long-time reconciling the separate identities until I realise that the answer was to integrate my life. And this integration is not about merging and having some overlap, but rather a full integration within Jesus. We believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, faith is not a subset of our life. Our life is our faith; our life is IN Jesus. I place a cross on my work desk to remind myself of who I am, who I am truly working for, and who I am loved by. I start the day with a simple prayer for grace, or in between meetings to be sensitive of His presence in my words and actions. 

Our one identity is the foundation of being a living witness. 

Separate and disconnected identities

Merging some parts of my life, and having some areas untouched by Jesus 

Integrated life in Jesus 

2. Being fully present

There is a popular personality spectrum on “people-oriented” or “task-oriented”. Sometimes, I daresay we hide under the pretext of being “task-oriented” out of convenience. However, behind every goal or task, there is a person. As Christians, we are to respect the dignity of each other. When I am pressed for time or refuse to move out of my comfort zone (I much prefer eating alone), I would only interact with colleagues when a need arises, and ‘use’ them accordingly. Could we use our coffee and lunches to be fully present with others, checking in and sharing with each other about our lives? I also invite you to step further and remember what is important to them – their children’s upcoming exams, parents’ health, etc. Or, if our colleagues are pulling a long face, or feeling angry, do we ‘siam’ or stand our ground and ask how they are doing? The conversations that I come out feeling the most alive, is in the open sharing about life itself beyond the KPIs/OKRs, and recognising that everyone desires truth and freedom. 

Some practical tips – choose small groups or  1-1 chats; initiate sharing before others. Also, be fully attentive and put away the phone, or the ringing outlook calendar (even better, block out these blessed minutes responsibly on your calendar). Hallmarks of spirit-lead conversations should leave others with the fruits of the spirit – love, joy, peace, hope!  

 

3. Speaking truth with love 

Let your speech always be with grace, as thought seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” Colossians 4:6.

Before  conversion, I was a “yes-man” and going with the flow of the world. Let’s face it, it’s much more convenient and easier to blend in. But that’s not what we are meant for. 

One of the biggest things I struggle with is workplace gossip. I actively remind myself that words are meant to build, and not to tear others down. On another front, it is also a challenge to speak with gentleness in a way that God’s love can be shown instead of being self-righteous. I was once giving advice to a dear friend to pause her pursuit of relationship in order to discover herself first, but I was insistent on her following the “right way” and “my way” immediately and failed to care entirely about her. Since then, I have learnt, to take a paced approach, and to keep fanning her with affirmations of herself and sprinkled with pointed questions at the right moments. Truth is good, but without love, it is reduced to self-righteousness. Love, without truth, is reduced to self-indulgence. We constantly have to be in tune with God’s spirit to provide counsel and wisdom to act in these situations. 

4. Pointing to Jesus

“Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave him the name that is above every name.” Philippians 2:9  

The hardest and yet most beautiful and most important is introducing Jesus. There is no Christian, without Christ. How amazing is our God to be given a name for us to call on Him. Sometimes, it might be too stark for others to digest the name Jesus, especially for non-Christians, so I would start by sharing values – love, compassion, mercy that others can relate to, or my own story. These usually would gather more questions, and slowly traces down the path to Jesus. Another way to ground all conversations is to pray together (Yes! That’s right!). People will very rarely say no to prayer, and if they are comfortable, we can pray together with them on the spot. Once, upon hearing a colleague was leaving, I knew that I wanted to pray for her and yet was worried that it might be awkward. For the next 2 weeks, this kept tugging my heart until finally, I mustered the courage and asked (actually, whispered to) her if I could pray for her in our office pantry. She responded with such gratefulness that I knew that the Spirit’s prompting was right and much needed. Thank you Jesus! 

Being Christian is not easy, but it is necessary, especially in this day where materialism, self, secularism are all fighting for our hearts. Our faith that captures the true essence of life, can easily turn insipid alone. Only with others can we preserve and fan the flame of Christ Jesus.  

Jesus, you called and chosen us to be your living witness in the world. We are sent by Love and with Love, may we anchor our hearts to you as our never-ending source. As we live out our mission in the world, we pray for courage and boldness to proclaim you through our words and deeds. May our lives be a living testimony to your Goodness and to attract others to desire to follow You. Amen! 

About me: Hi I’m Clara from 7 Graces 1 working adult community. No travel compares to the greatest journey I embarked 3 years ago with Jesus. Renewed and inspired, I desire nothing more than an undivided heart to follow Him!

 

 

 

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