Is it possible to live out our faith fully today without running afoul of some law or regulation?
Our culture seems to be keenly sensitive to whether Christians are imposing their religion on others. This appears to be particularly true in the public square where nativity scenes are barred, and in the workplace where sharing your faith with a co-worker can provoke a harassment lawsuit.
St. Paul describes a way to avoid these conflicts. In his letter to the Galatians he talks about the importance of living by the Spirit. He says that if we do, we will experience the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
He then declares, “Against such things there is no law.” (Gal. 5:23)
Our society is swamped with rules and regulations at every level of government. We seem to measure the performance of our legislators by how many laws they can adopt. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, 81,611 new pages of regulations were added to the Federal Register in 2015, covering all manner of conduct of businesses, professions, schools, churches, individual citizens, etc.
Yet, in the workplace, for example, there is no law or employee handbook that is going to prohibit supporting a co-worker in Christian love; being joyful in our countenance; promoting peace where there is conflict; being patient, gentle and kind in our relationships with co-workers, customers or suppliers; and being loyal and faithful to our employer and beliefs.
I have a friend who owns a freight forwarding business with warehouses in Chicago and Minneapolis. He makes it a point to meet regularly with all his employees. He tells the following story of employees in Chicago working overtime to help employees in Minneapolis.
Late one Friday night in Chicago, a truck arrived, carrying products to be delivered to customers in both Chicago and Minneapolis. The truck had been loaded in a very random way with individual orders mixed up and paperwork not matching the orders. An employee in Chicago, who had already put in a full day, could have just offloaded the items to be delivered in Chicago and sent the truck on its way. Instead, he said, “Why don’t we unload the whole truck and reload it correctly for the guys in Minneapolis?”
It took two employees four hours, working into the wee hours of Saturday morning to identify, sort and reload a multitude of orders destined for Minneapolis. As my friend observed, “This is a small story that could have gone unnoticed, but it is really huge because it reflects an attitude of the employees in Chicago who wanted to support the employees in Minneapolis who had just gone through a difficult time of changing warehouse locations.”
The Chicago employees were exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit in showing love, kindness, goodness and faithfulness to the employees in Minneapolis. My friend, their employer, was pleased that they did.
By exhibiting the fruit of the spirit, Christians demonstrate a clear contrast to much of today’s culture, and will evangelize more powerfully with their conduct than they ever could with their words.