Shine for Jesus: The Vision and Mission of a Marketplace Christian
Dr Jean Lee
Assistant Professor of Theological Studies
If we face ourselves and the world truthfully, it is not difficult to discover a reality: the marketplace we are in is a place that does not know God or is far away from Him – a dark reality. Having realized this, we are not surprised with the oppression, distortion and injustice that often occur in the marketplace. As Christians, we know that all live and act under sin, so the world will only continue to deteriorate. We Christians are merely sinners who have received God’s grace.
John 1:1-4 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” The Creator God chooses to work in a special way. He makes each and every Christian a small spark of light in a dark world by igniting the lives He gives. In this way, when the people of God disperse into different workplaces and professions in society, they will shine like sparks of light, making up the pattern of a beautiful starry night to light up the world.
After all, we are merely weak and incapable persons who need God’s grace and mercy. How do we face a world that is increasingly overwhelmed by darkness due to sinfulness and distortion? How can we gain victory? The only difference between Christians and non-Christians is that we have received salvation from our Lord Jesus, who has overcome the world Himself, enabling all followers to live a victorious life through faith. “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4). Although the world is a place of darkness, our faithful Lord has not given up on the world and has not given up on you and me, or the people around us.
A Christian’s life is salt and light. “You are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) This is an important analogy because it states clearly that this mission is not just about our behaviour or what we do. W hen the Word enters someone’s life, that entire life is illuminated and will shine on others. This means that being salt and light is not about ministerial activities or events, but a natural manifestation of our life attributes and character. We are the light placed by God in a world of darkness. This means that each and everyone of us has to unleash our being in Christ where He has sent us into the marketplace, so that the light of our life can be evident before others.
This also reveals a special purpose of God: the manifestation of the light of life is not restricted to us as individuals, because each of us is insignificant. It is only when the entire Christian community, a community who has responded to the call of our Lord with their lives, unleash the light of their lives collectively that the dark sky can be lit up with a beautiful pattern of starry sparks.
Darkness needs light. Today, Christ calls on each Christian who follows Him, that is each and everyone of us, saying: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21) He has sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us as the Immanuel, God with us. Because of this, we should equip ourselves in order to make full use of the opportunities and potentials that the Lord has given us. We need to learn and enrich our knowledge so that we can integrate our faith with our daily life, and to live out our faith in our workplace and other aspects of our lives.
Our school has quite a number of part-time students who work in the marketplace, especially in our Master of Christian Studies programme majoring in Marketplace Theology. They aspire to an in-depth and systematic learning of the Word of God, striving to integrate their faith with their work and profession alongside their studies. They start with basic subjects in biblical studies, dogmatic theology and spiritual formation before moving on to inter-disciplinary subjects that facilitate integration and practice, such as “Christian Discipleship”, “Ethics in the Workplace”, “Wealth & the Christian Faith”, “Leadership & Management”, “Interpersonal Relationships” etc. Through knowledge, reflection, integration and practice, students continue to reflect on their faith and to practise what they have learnt in response to God’s call to serve Him in the marketplace.
We firmly believe that the marketplace vision and mission is to be realized through the entire church community. This involves life integration by marketplace Christians, paradigm shift of church ministries, the participation of workplace organisations, etc. Through our joint effort and collaboration, a new generation of marketplace disciples will form an army led by the Lord to bring transformation to this generation.