Eyes Above The Waves

Robert O'Callahan. Christian. Repatriate Kiwi. Hacker.

Sunday 10 June 2018

Crypto-Christians In Tech

This is not about cryptocurrencies; for that, watch this. Nor is it about cryptography. It's about the hidden Christians working in tech.

I sometimes get notes from Christian tech people thanking me for being open about my Christian commitment, because they feel that few of their colleagues are. That matches my experience, but it's a combination of factors: most tech people aren't Christians, but more are than you think — they're just not talking about it. Both of these are sad, but I expect the former. The latter is more problematic. I would encourage my brothers and sisters in tech to shine brighter. Here are some concerns I've had — or heard — over the years:

What can I do without being a jerk?
When asked what I did during the weekend, I say I worshiped the Creator. Sometimes I just say I went to church.

Sometimes I write blog posts about Christ. People don't have to read them if they don't want to.

I used to put Christian quotes in my email signature, but I got bashed over that and decided it wasn't worth fighting over. Now my email signatures are obscured. Those who seek, find. I should try emoji.

Sometimes I'm probably a jerk. Sorry!

Won't my career suffer?
It may. People I've worked with (but not closely) have told me they look down on me because I'm a Christian. Surely more have thought so, but not said so. But Jesus is super-clear that we need to take this on the chin and respond with love.

I don't want to be associated with THOSE OTHER Christians.
I know, right? This is a tough one because the easy path is to disavow Christians who embarrass us, but I think that is often a mistake. I could write a whole post about this, but Christians need unity and that sometimes means gritting our teeth and acknowledging our relationship with people who are right about Christ and wrong about everything else.

Another side of this is that if your colleagues only know of THOSE OTHER Christians (or perhaps just those who are particularly thick-skinned or combative), they need you to show them an alternative.

Woah, persecution!
No. Claiming I've ever experienced persecution would embarrass me among my brothers and sisters who really have.

People are generally very good about it, especially in person. People who are jerks about it generally turn out to be jerks to everyone. In the long run it will reduce the number of awkward conversations people have around you about how awful those Christians are, not knowing where you stand. But this is not about our comfort anyway.

What if I screw up and give people a bad impression?
Bad news: you will. Good news: if you were perfect, you might give people the false impression that Christianity is about being a good person (or worse, trying to make other people "good"). But of course it isn't: it's about us recognizing our sin, seeking reconciliation with people and God, and obtaining forgiveness through Christ; not just once, but every day. How can we demonstrate that if we never fail?


Herbus Derbus
Thanks Rob, this is a nice post.
As a Christian and a software developer from Norway, I can relate to what you describe. I know a few other Christians that work in tech, but none where I work. The way I approach this is by praying and aspiring to be kind and clear. I can excuse my own behaviour and understanding, but I make no excuses about God, Jesus or the Bible. How can I make excuses for the Creator? It is not I that decides the truth. I am just grateful for being accepted into the eternal kingdom of God. Not because of moral excellence, in which I could be proud, but by accepting that Jesus paid my fine for breaking God's law. I which my colleagues would show more interest. Once at a conference, after some drinks, I was "put on the spot". I answered and argued to the best of my abilities, and found the experience invigorating. None have tried to "put me on the spot" after that. I had a similar experience at my previous job too. Still I would prefer more genuine interest, and not just trying and failing at "taking a Christian". I have to add that I have a good relationship with all of my colleagues, and the relationship was not damaged by the argument. It is even a bit better, perhaps because those involved understand my position better? But I don't know. Thanks for a interesting blog.
Amen, brother :-)