Faith at Work: Byron Rushing

Episcopalians on Baptismal Mission seeks to raise up and empower the ministries of all the baptized in their daily lives and challenges the Episcopal Church to do the same. In this vein, this ongoing column shares the stories of laypeople living their faith in the world.

All baptized people are called to make Christ known as Savior and Lord, and to share in the renewing of the world. This is the ministry of all the baptized - an extraordinary calling for ordinary people.

Over the past several years, I have attempted to carry out my share of that ministry as a Massachusetts state legislator. As an elected legislator, my tasks are to sponsor, support, and revise legislation, to respond to the immediate concerns of my constituents, and to speak out on public policy issues and questions in ways that educate, support, and challenge my constituency. I am convinced that effective representation is mutual, a partnership between the representative and the constituents. I listen and debate, learn and respond, suggest and lead, not in isolation, but with the authority that derives from election, and ongoing consultations with my constituents.

I am always amazed when other Christians offer how difficult it must be for me to be a practicing Christian (I like that term "practicing Christian;" I hope we're all practicing), while working within the system that is perceived to be self-serving, corrupt, and ruthless. My first reaction is to reply as a legislator. No, I don't think my colleagues are any more corrupt, or any more virtuous, for that matter, than the workers in most other institutions: banks, hospitals, computer firms, churches. What is different is that our virtuous and corrupt actions are more regularly made public.

However, what I really should say, as one of the Baptized, in answer to that question is, "It is like any other part of the world: It is fallen and unreconciled. And that is why it is an opportunity for me. It ultimately belongs to Christ, and I am called to share in renewing it. I am in the legislature because Jesus is in the legislature, and I am in the legislature because I am called to follow Jesus." You are in your business because Jesus is in that business, and you are called to follow Jesus. If Jesus is not there, don't bother. You shouldn't be there, either.


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