Armor up and face the world

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my concerns regarding working in the secular world. Clayfoot2 rightly pointed out that it’s better to trust God for protection and go into the secular world anyway.

This has proved to be very true, and the Lord demonstrated it to me in a powerful way.

In the last quarter of 2012, I was teaching my Sunday school class Knowing God by J.I. Packer. An excellent book, by the way. Packer’s next-to-last chapter is a refutation of the prosperity gospel. He doesn’t call it that, because this teaching was not known by that name at that time. It’s also known as the “health and wealth” gospel, and Packer calls it “cruel.” Followers of this warped doctrine would have you believe that all you need to be healthy and wealthy is belief in Jesus.

The corollary — this is the cruel part — is that if you’re not healed or not rich, your faith must not be strong enough.
Right after I taught this lesson, I was approached for a copyediting job by a Christian who said he wanted to teach Christians how to live abundantly. Sounded good. Jesus did say, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

So he sent over a handful of lessons to me for copyediting, and they were straight out of the prosperity gospel. He and I had a rather spirited dialog, with him trying to get me to be open-minded, and me trying to show him that there’s no room in his teaching for the life of the apostle Paul, who never got healed and never got rich.

In the end, after much prayer, I had to say I was not the right editor for him.

This would have been ongoing work; enough maybe to keep me busy all year. But I couldn’t do it.

Now in January, as I mentioned before, I’ve been studying Bill Hybels’s Just Walk Across the Room, in which he points out that we need to be intentional about getting around non-believers. Considering that, and taking Clayfoot2’s advice, I put in a bid on a gig copyediting a secular novel. As I always do, I offered to do a sample edit of a few pages.

armor of God

Illustration by Raphael Pinto

I got “armored up” and opened the file, and sure enough, it was as full of profanity as many secular novels. But I have to say, it offended me far less than the prosperity gospel. The author is still in the developmental stage with her book, but said she would hire me when it came time for copyediting. And just yesterday I had a good meeting with a new client who will have ongoing work throughout the year — also a secular businessman. Turning down that earlier job seems to have cleared the way for other, less disturbing, work.

So breaking out of the Christian cocoon didn’t prove as bad as I thought it would be. As a lot of formerly churched people have found, sometimes “Christians” can be as poisonous as the “heathens.”


About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

4 comments on “Armor up and face the world

  1. Good for you, Kristen! I’m sure God will bless you and those you are working for in more than one way for your willingness to stand up to blasphemy and mingle with the “tax collectors and sinners.” I completely agree that a few ugly words are far less offensive than twisting the gospel.

  2. Oh wow, good for you for branching out! I maintain friendly contact with my deviantart peeps, most of whom aren’t saved, but are very nice people nonetheless. And hey, if swearing’s all you have to worry about, that’s not bad at all. I suppose you’ll just have to make sure it’s in character for the characters in question. It’s a shame that the really tough client was the health-and-wealther.

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