Wear it Purple? | City Bible Forum

Wear it Purple?

Should you support wear it purple day at work?
Thu 27 Aug 2020



Excerpt from Sam Chan’s presentation at the 2018 Life@Work conference “Disruption: How to be heard in a world not listening”.

How do we engage then, especially if we don't agree on everything? And here I'm getting this from Andrew Cameron’s “Joined Up Life”. We have a spectrum of ways we can engage – we can cooperate; we can subvert; we can whistle-blow or we can separate.

Cooperate So, I work as a medical doctor and when I work in a hospital, that means I can cooperate. You tell me to do this, I cooperate because you and I are on the same page: you want people to get better; I want people to get better. I will cooperate.

Subvert Here, you subvert. You do what they tell you to do but you have different motives. I would do what you tell me to do but your motives are different from mine. Your motives are to make money, balance budgets; my motive is to make people get better.

Whistle-blow Here, you whistle-blow. You sort of say, “I would do what you tell me to do but I don't agree with your ideology and I'm going to call you out on that and tell people about it”. So, I would do what you tell me to do but I don't like how you're cutting costs here and our waiting lists are too long so I'm gonna tell the press about this. I'm gonna whistle blow.

Separate And here, you separate. You say, “That's it! I can't work here anymore. I resign, hand in my resignation. I will not work here as a doctor anymore”.

Bible Case Study

And you can see examples of all these in the Bible.

So, cooperate would be Joseph in Egypt: “I will do what you tell me to do”.

Subvert would be Daniel. Early in the book of Daniel it says, “I will do what you told me do but I will eat a different diet. You guys eat that diet; I'm gonna eat my own diet”. Whistle-blow would be in Daniel when they told him, “You can't pray to your God anymore” He would say, “Well, sorry, I cannot do that and I'm going to call you out on that”. And then separate would be the three friends in Babylon where they've been asked to bow down to the statue and they say, “Ahh, sorry, we cannot do that. We separate. We will not be part of all this”.

And then you sort of think, “Well, how do I work out when and how to do these things?” Well, here we need to learn wisdom: wisdom.

You know, the Bible has three categories of knowledge. There’s salvation knowledge (how to be saved), there's providence knowledge (how to survive day by day), but there's another category that is completely under-explored in our tradition and that’s wisdom, the category of wisdom.

Wisdom is summed up by those famous two verses in Proverbs[1], where one verse says, “Answer a fool according to their folly” and right next to the verse that says “Don't answer a fool according to their folly”.

And you think, “Well, which one is it?! Do I? Don't I? Do I? Don't I?” Well, you're gonna need wisdom for that. What is most apt in this circumstance?

You have to take circumstances into account. So, “Do I cooperate or do I not? Do I subvert or do I not? Do I subvert or do I not? Do I whistle-blow or do I not? Do I separate or do I not?” We will need wisdom to know that and it may be different according to different circumstances.

We need to look for common ground. In the reformed tradition in theology we say that all goodness is God's goodness, all truth is God's truth, all beauty is God's beauty – meaning there's goodness, truth and beauty in every non-Christian tradition.

Because of general revelation, because of common grace, because everyone is in the image of God, every non-Christian cultural tradition and belief will have some aspect of God's goodness, God’s truth and God's beauty in it. So look for common ground.

Common Ground

That's what Paul does in Athens when he sees all these idols and he could have come in blazing “This is wrong! You’ve broken the first two commandments of the Bible, so now you’ve broken all of them. You guys are guilty!”

Instead, he comes in and looks for common ground and says, “Wow, you guys have a lot of idols. How about that! You're very religious; you're trying to worship God; you're trying to appease the gods. Let me show you how.”

So, we need to look for common ground: you guys want same sex marriage? Wow, 'cause you believe in human rights, equality, justice and universal unconditional love? Wow, we do too, we get that from the Bible.

You want the safe schools thing because you're against bullying? We, too, are against bullying.

You want purple shirt day 'cause you believe in everyone feeling safe in the public sphere? We, too, we believe in embracing all beliefs and making them feel safe in the public space.

So, because of God's general revelation and common grace, Timothy Keller says,
“No non-Christian position is as bad as we think it is”.
Then the flip side – because of universal human depravity –
“No Christian position is as good as we think it is”.

So we've all been tainted by sin as well in our Christian position. We will find ways of suppressing God’s truth in our Christian position, so we need to have the humility to say, “we're broken, we've got things wrong” and to say sorry for the hurt we have caused as Christians.

Last of all we need to learn to love, pray and bless because Jesus said, “love your enemies[2]”. He said anyone can love those who agree with them: now true love is to love your enemies, to love those who disagree with you and to pray for them. The Bible says pray for your enemies, pray for those who want to hurt you and bless those who persecute you. Love, pray and bless.

Do you need more support and help thinking through how to love your workplace?

We'd love to help you

[1] Proverbs 26:4-5.

[2] Matthew 5:44.

Photo by Ravi Kant from Pexels

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