What Power or By What Name? The Essential Question for a Christian in Business

| September 11, 2014

Jesus LetterpressWhat does it mean to have a “Christian business” or to be a Christian businessman or businesswoman? The essence of the answer can be found in an exchange in Acts Chapter 4.

Peter and John had gone to the temple to pray, and there they saw a lame man, begging for alms. Peter said to him that “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Immediately the man was able to stand and walk, and was shouting out the goodness of God.

A crowd quickly gathered. Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, who were “greatly disturbed” that they were preaching Jesus Christ and His resurrection.

They asked “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

Peter responded that “let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.”

There are today many self-described “Christian businesses.” What actually does that mean?

Usually, people think that a “Christian business” is one that is owned by Christians, or that sells its products and services primarily to the Christian marketplace, responding to the needs of other people of the faith. I disagree, and this article suggests a different definition — one that looks for inspiration to this account in Acts.

The search for right answers often begins with asking the right questions. The Sanhedrin and its members were enemies of the Gospel. They were the same court that had condemned Jesus Christ to death. But here, although they were getting the answers wrong, they were getting the question right.

The question is not “what do you do?” The question is not “why do you do it?” The right question is “by what power or in what name have you done this?”

They saw a lame man who has been healed, and that Peter and John had something to do with it. Their question was: By what power (i.e. how did you do it?); or by what name – did someone else do this through you?

Generally, people in business concentrate only on the first part of that question: by what power – that is what ability do you have that can address this problem or fill this need? What skill do you have? What education do you have? What products do you offer? It is certainly an important question.

But to stop the analysis there misses the alternative question, and misses the way that Peter and John framed their answer: not by what power, but in what name have we done this? Their answer was that through the name of Jesus Christ this man’s life has been made whole.

The emphasis of a Christian business is not by what means a business succeeds, not what market it serves, not what products it offers — but in whose name it is done.

I submit that a “Christian business” is not defined by its products, its services, its market, its business plan, or even its ownership. A “Christian business” is not assured by the faith of the persons who own or operate it.

Rather, the question is, when you sell those products, when you perform those services, or when you execute that business plan, are you doing it in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ? Or are you doing it for the economic and professional benefits? Respectfully, there are many businesses owned by Christians, even those that service the Christian marketplace, that fail that test.

Annas, Caiaphas, and the others of the Sanhedrin did not really care what you did – they cared about whether you did it in the name of Jesus Christ. It was perfectly alright to heal the lame man, but not in the name of Jesus Christ. It was perfectly alright to encourage the Jerusalem populace, but not in the name of Jesus Christ.

Any business can concentrate its products or services on the Christian market. There is nothing particularly spiritual about that.

Today more than ever before, secular businesses have recognized that there is considerable profit to be made in selling to the Christian community. For an obvious example, notice how secular bookstores today universally carry the latest publications of leading Christian authors.

Far too often Christians in business find themselves thinking that it is their product or their service or their market that defines their business. But if you do things in the Name of Jesus Christ, and for the sake of Jesus Christ, then any product, any service, or any market becomes a spiritual service, endowed with the nobility that comes with the work of the Lord.

The service of the Lord thereby permeates everything in your business, and, indeed, everything in your life. Jesus said For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name … assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. (Mark 9: 41).

I trust that all Christians in business, and all Christians in ministry will see their businesses or ministry in the same light, so that whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3: 17).


Category: Faith

About the Author ()

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Email | Website | Thomas Schetelich is a founding principal in the law firm of Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew in Baltimore, Maryland, and a member of the United States Supreme Court Bar. He heads both the firm’s corporate/ business law practice and its personal legal services department. He is an AV rated attorney awarded for highest standards of professional skill and ethical practice. Mr. Schetelich devotes much of his practice to assisting charitable and religious organizations, and is the President of The Christian Professional Network. He is a frequent speaker on Biblical and legal matters throughout the United States.