Friday, October 22, 2010

Bright and well-placed

More than a year ago, the question arose, "What does it take to be a missionary in a place like an office?"

"I know, I know," I thought, "You have to be the same as everyone else and different from everyone else," and I was please with how profound I sounded.

I meant that there has to be something about you that catches others' attention (hopefully, it is favorable) that makes them quietly wonder, "What makes him different?" Then, when they inquire, you can tell them about the importance of Christ in your life.

But at the same time, you have to be sufficiently similar to others, lest they think, "He is holy and on a pedestal and what he does is nice, but I could never do it myself." They have to be able to see how they are like you and therein how the things about you to which they quietly are attracted (the ways in which you reflect Christ) are things that they could do too.

Then, I thought of a better way to say this. "You have to be both bright and well-placed." Perhaps I was thinking of the line from the Gospel of Matthew, "You are the light of the world.... Let your light shine for the whole world to see." A light that is not both bright and well-placed will not be seen.

In many ways, it is not easy for your light to be bright in an office. By this, I mean that talking about Christ often must be done with great delicacy. Otherwise, others may think, "This is an office. We're not supposed to be doing this Jesus thing here." But your light must nevertheless be shone.

And at the same time, what is lost in brightness may be more than counterbalanced by the great opportunity to be well-placed. A priest cannot be well-placed in an office. A religious sister cannot be well-placed in an office. A theology professor cannot be well-placed in an office. But an undercovery missionary can be right there in the thick, such that even a less bright light can be clearly seen.

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