One of my favourite scenes in “Fidler on the Roof” is the beautiful moment when Tevye asks Golde if she loves him. Long married, and dealing with the romantic complications thrust on them by their daughters (and their cultural context), Tevye wants to know exactly how his wife feels about him. This is of course not an uncommon. I’m sure, that at one point or another, all of us have asked this question, even if it was only to ourselves. Jesus also asks this question.
By the lake, after a moment of great commercial success, a miracle catch of fish, Jesus asks the apostle Peter directly, “Do you love me more than these?” Peter, having denied Christ, having returned to his former work, is being asked point blank about where he has placed his priorities, where his heart lies. This past Sunday our Pastor, Dr. D, preached a brilliant sermon on this interchange between Jesus and Peter. Jesus is calling Peter out, asking him to assess his situation and take stock of his life. Where is he placing his love? Dr. D asked us this same question. Do we love Jesus more than these? Will we place Him before our careers, before our planned futures? I had to admit, it was a convicting question. It is easy to let our dreams get in the way of our relationship with Christ, to allow our ambition to cloud our judgement and form our actions in ways that draw us away from Jesus.
I believe this is especially challenging for those who have been called to business. With success there often comes money, resources, and power. It is not difficult to locate examples of individuals who have lost their way as a result. Even for those who set out with a dream to create common good through the marketplace it is a difficult not to be swept up by the euphoria of success. It is easy to forget that we have been called to be fishers of people while we strive to be fishers of profit. It is important I am not misunderstood on this point. It is not a bad thing to be engaged in business, to be creating wealth. In fact it is vital for the common good that some of us do so. Societies depend on it. It is equally important for those same societies that those who work in business remember to uphold the common good and not solely work for themselves, or their families. Seeking profit for profits sake, especially at the expense of people and the environment, should never be the focus of the marketplace. Loving Jesus more than these means putting His priorities before our own, and that means loving our neighbour in and through our business practices.
I get to see this in action often, business people seeking the common good in their own small way, in the form of business mentoring. Every day experienced business people share their time with new entrepreneurs as they start out. It is beautiful to see but it is culturally counterintuitive. For many business people, in this context, to share ideas and skills with someone outside your family would be considered ill-advised. To give something to a potential competitor, to do so willingly, and for free, would at best be considered a bad business decision and at worse, reckless. It isn’t a naturally occurring action. It is here where Jesus’ question comes into play. When Christ enters, when He asks each of us whether we love Him more than these, new opportunities come into view while old worldviews are challenged and replaced. New ways of doing business, living together in community, and caring for our neighbours become possible. Sometimes, like Peter, that means we are called into a new vocation, to abandon our former dreams completely for something different entirely. Other times, more commonly, Jesus asks us to remain right where we are, in business, or any other vocation in which we might be engaging, and to do so loving Him more than these.
P.S. Join the conversation. We would love to hear where your worldview has been challenged, where Jesus has caused you to do your work in a counterintuitive way.