This Question was put to Elder Richard Bowes of Lyndhurst Road Shiloh Apostolic Church, Kingston Jamaica.
Let me hasten to state that I don’t consider myself an expert but stand in solidarity with the thrust of Yeshua’s House Ministry that’s examining how we have conducted ourselves as joint heirs.
Each profession will be examined in the order they appear in the question.
There is a kneejerk response given when confronted by whether it is OK for Christians to become lawyers. This is usually no, or best, it’s not advisable as they have to lie. Still, others will point to the “woe” pronounced on the profession (Luke 11:46). If those weren’t enough, other persons will advance the theory that lawyers have to defend criminals so they can’t be good Christians.
All the above instances are ‘rebuttable’ with some basic facts.
Firstly, state-of-affairs in Christ’s time was such that no profession was spared His condemnation (Mat. 16:4, Mat. 12:34-37). In fact, any person from any profession that disobeys God’s laws are under the danger of woe, be they lawyer, doctor, Indian or chief.
Secondly, it is to be understood that a criminal is someone convicted of a crime. An accused person is presumed by Jamaica’s constitution, to be innocent until proven guilty. Persons charged with crimes are innocent even at the point of being tried by the courts. There are certain rights that they still have – including the right to a fair hearing. A lawyer is trained to assist the hearing, for calculated resolution.
Third and most important, it is thought that there are only criminal lawyers. There may be as many different types of lawyers as there are hours in the day. A few of these include; Constitution lawyer, Marine/Maritime lawyer, Contract lawyer, Conveyance lawyer, family lawyer, etc. many of whom never have to deal with criminals.
Sportsmen & Women
Historically, our church frowns on activities like engaging in sports. The thought is that the attire is too exposing and will lead to all sorts of spiritual debacle. In 1st. Corinthians 9:24 one of the metaphors the Bible uses to make its point is the sport of running…athletics. Further, Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to ‘…run with patience the race…’
God’s people are imbued with talent of every form. In the age of doping and cheating, a number of sporting disciplines could benefit from some Christian involvement and participation. Just imagine for a moment Usain Bolt with his worldwide platform, if he were a Christian campaigner, telling the world after each race, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!“
In any event, Christ, in commissioning His disciples, advised that he was sending them out as sheep amongst wolves Matt 10:16. No doubt some in sheep clothing, some in winter clothing and some dressed for summer, yet others dressed for sports while others clad for work.
I believe in the noble ideal that the practice of politics is one of the most suited to organize societies and to bring about social change. Nevertheless, the divisive posture of politics in Jamaica, at this time, appears to create divisions rather than being a source of cohesion when dealing with another from the opposing party.
Anecdotally, there are at least two reverends that have been in the house of representatives that seem not to have made the Christian difference that many hoped for.
Another point is that politics is such an emotionally and personally charged matter, that it could easily be seen how a congregation would be split if its leader is a known activist.
On the other hand, a Christian may be the best advocate for community and infrastructural development, the potential to divide may very well outweigh the good that this good brother/sister could do.
In summing, the legal profession and athletics, like politics, have been taboos that have historically barred Christians from becoming active participants. While sports and law professions may not have been part of a doctrine, I believe that Christians should be prepared, trusted and encouraged to pursue their dreams in these areas and be guided by the Christian and professional tenets that govern all other professions.
Politics, on the other hand, is a horse of a different colour, one that is best kept at a distance in Jamaica for the time being.
[Elder Richard Bowes is the Assistant Pastor of Faith Temple, a branch of The Shiloh Apostolic Church of Jamaica Inc. He has successfully obtained a Bachelor of Laws Degree from the University of Technology, Jamaica
He is married to Joan and together they have one son, Jovan, who was recently admitted to the bar].