I’m still a Christian…despite working for the Church
2 Corinthians 4: 1 – 15
Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practise cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.
But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—‘I believed, and so I spoke’—we also believe, and so we speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
I was a committed member of an Anglican church before working for the URC. I began ‘my journey of exploration’ as I call it, in a Synod Office and, for the final 23 years, I worked at Church House in a number of roles. In one respect, the URC has been the mainstay of my life for the last 25 years – and still is (much to my surprise)! However, I know many other Christians across denominations who have told me that they feel let-down and frankly disappointed having worked for a church.
Let me try to explain: when I began working for the Church, at first all was wonderful. I felt that I could finally ‘give something back’ and be amongst people who cared about other people – all people! There would be no ‘back-stabbing’, no prejudice of any kind, no imbalance. After all, we were all working for the same side, weren’t we? After 25 years when I reflect back, I can see that along the way, there have been examples of all of the above that I would not want to see again – not anywhere let alone within a Church organisation.
I had assumed, like a lot of other people, that working for a Church would be working with Christians who respected and cared about and supported each other, but there were times when it didn’t seem like that at all! To balance this, most have been shining examples of being God’s people but every now and then …
At the end of the day, people are human beings first, created in the image of God and some hide their flaws more successfully – and of course I have to include myself in that number. I can only seek forgiveness for my own sins and pray that those who did not truly reflect God’s love when they might have done, have also repented and sought forgiveness also.
Father, root out the darkness and light up my life with Your holy presence. You are the only one who provides for all my needs. I have no need to turn to others for satisfaction and approval. You alone fill up my soul with deep down joy and peace beyond all understanding. May it always be so, my Lord and my God. Amen.
Ann Barton Secretary/Elder of Whittlesford URC in the Eastern Synod