My congregation is aware of my story. I served in the cannabis industry for a very long time before I was born again. In a matter of months after my new life began, I felt called out of that industry and in to a life dedicated to ministry. God has been providing for my family financially through various means since then, including some self employment.
This post is to deal with a common question that comes up from Christians I know who find themselves working in environments where sin is the economy. I have ministered to bar tenders, cannabis industry workers, and gamblers. (Not that I have anything against gambling. Click here to learn more)
The question is often, can a Christian work in these environments, or any environment where the work supports corruption, even if it is not listed above.
As Christians, we are called to “go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Clearly, these work environments are usually filled with people who need to hear the gospel. Further, many people will open up to a bartender, or a co-worker who is relateable, more than they would to some other random individual, especially when they are intoxicated. So, yes, a Christian might have some ministry opportunities while working as a bartender, or cannabis industry worker. However, working and building relationships in a sinful environment, surrounded by temptations for several hours a day is clearly unwise. “What fellowship does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what partnership does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Realistically, after a long shift of growing weed, or serving drinks, or whatever, would the spirit of a Christian be edified? Would we leave with an increasing hunger for God’s Word? Would our mind be filled with holy images? Would our thoughts be that of Philippians 4:8? Scripture clearly teaches us to “hate everything that is evil and hold tight to everything that is good” (Romans 12:9). Perhaps a Christian feels they would enjoy interacting with unbelievers in order to share the message of Jesus Christ. And for me, I did have many opportunities to witness the love of God to people who were not expecting it, and would not have gotten it any other way, while I was in the cannabis industry.
But is that the biblical model of evangelism, to share in their lifestyle? Yes, Jesus ate and drank with sinners (Matthew 11:19); however, with a heart of true compassion, His primary goal was, and still is, to save sinners. He never indulged in their lifestyle; rather, He commanded them to come out of it and live godly lives (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Many refer to 1 Corinthians 5:10 when debating over whether we should work in an environment where sin is prevalent. However, Paul is not encouraging us to enter into full-time business relations with the “fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters.” He is simply saying we cannot escape their company altogether: “In that case you would have to leave this world.” But we must not spend huge amounts of time with those indulging in evil lifestyles—as is certainly the case when working in the cannabis industry, or a bar—in hopes of having a moment or two in which to share the gospel. Realistically, not many grow store, dispensary, or bar owners would tolerate an employee who spent the majority of our time evangelizing the customers. He knows that would be detrimental to his bottom line. The fact is that people who go to these places are not usually in any frame of mind to hear the gospel.
I did get lucky a few times, but this mission field can be worked from the outside, and it is not necessary to work from the inside like an undercover agent.
As Christians, we are to obey the commandment of God to “abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). So “let everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19).