God is not corporate.
This simple fact does not bode too well for America or the western world. If it were up to Jesus, the services we provide from these Manhattan skyscrapers (or basement offices as it may be) would be completely free of charge and open to everyone, not just those who qualify on paper. We would all be givers, and receipt would be a word seldom included in anyone’s vocabulary.
Now you’re probably thinking, “That doesn’t sound like my America!” Sadly, you’re right. The grim reality is that Corporate America is very much not concerned with giving; in fact the very practice goes against just about everything capitalism stands for.
I often wonder how it is that our brains and our bank accounts have reached what I pray to be the absolute limit of capitalism. When God commanded that man would have to work for his keep (Gen 2:17) I’m not so sure He meant sitting behind a desk doing paperwork in exchange for presidents’ heads on green paper, and though I can’t imagine that He didn’t foresee barter and trade, I still feel like we took it a little too far. Consequently, I am constantly wondering how God feels not only about the fruits of our labor, but also the work we do to reap them.
Personally, I do not feel that I am fulfilling my calling by working in a corporate environment. That being said, I can’t say that I’m even exactly sure what my calling is, but I can tell you with the utmost certainty what it isn’t. Nonetheless, I have done very little to explore any of my potential callings, save daydreaming and romanticizing. Why? C’mon, you know the answer: Because there just isn’t enough time in the day. Unfortunately, that answer just isn’t good enough for God. And so now that capitalism has, for the most part, grown beyond our control, many of us who seek the Lord and look to serve His purpose have to find a way to make our corporate lifestyle and Christian values coexist.
A question I have had some difficulty answer is: How does one glorify God through capital? It is certainly not the easiest of tasks. No matter what you do, there will always be that money-hungry corporation lingering behind all of your good intentions. But even though I don’t think that God is a big fan of “dot-coms,” p.c.’s or l.l.c.’s, the only place I can look to find comfort is in my faith in the Lord. Through His grace, we can work in these jobs that man has created over the years, and though the premise of why we’re here (money) is not what He would have us do, the way we handle ourselves (loving obnoxious co-workers, giving that hard-earned money to those who need it, etc.) can still be in accordance with His word. In this way we can still find a means to glorify the Father in the work that we do every day.
Let me go so far as to suggest that God may even call some of us into the corporate world to learn something that will help us to reach His ultimate calling. For instance, I did not end up behind my corporate desk because of steadfast ambition, love for money or educational and experiential qualifications. I ended up here, ironically enough, because my boss met me at an open-mic I used to frequent as I explored an artistic future. At the time I had been unemployed for some months and was beginning to run out of money which would have put a quick halt to my musical aspirations by sending me back home to Connecticut where local music is more of a myth than a reality. Just when I was getting ready to crash and burn in New York City, God threw me a most unexpected line: A corporate job. He brought me to this city, and He provided a way to keep me here to fulfill His calling, whatever that may end up being.
Let me be clear about one thing: I do not hold people who are ambitious and who do have a love for money in any less regard than anyone else. There are different things that drive each and everyone of us, and I am a firm believer that it is far from my place to judge what motivates a person. What I am doing instead is exploring the idea that maybe skyscrapers, benefits packages, staff meetings and coffee mugs expressing one’s disdain for Monday mornings, while all are perfectly forgivable in the eyes of Jesus, may not be in complete accordance with traditional Biblical teachings.
From a radical perspective, let’s pretend for a minute that there was no separation of church and state. Let’s pretend that the church was allowed to intervene in matters of legislation which dictate who can own what, spend what and save what. Things would certainly be different. But what would be different? Would New York City be a fraction of the height its skyline currently reaches? Would there be less thievery, jealousy and greed? Looking at history, it seems rather unlikely. Ironically enough, America was founded based on the rejection of such greed. And so it appears that even allowing Christianity to hold weight in legislation and government proceedings still will not justify the existence and politics of what America has come to know as “The Man”.
The good news—as is always the case when it comes to Jesus—is that there is always hope. Grim as it may sound, we are human and humans will always fail the Lord, corporately or otherwise. No matter how much you give or how big your heart is you will never be perfect. But Jesus took care of those imperfections for us, and, because of his sacrifice, even Corporate America can find a way into His kingdom. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t address the cut-throat mentality of the capitalist world; we are far beyond due for a makeover. It simply means that we can rest easy because God has the patience, tolerance, and amazing grace to accept even the craziness we have brought to His earth.