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Realigning My Life with Jesus' Counter-Cultural Teaching

Written by Pierce Finley

I work as a Systems Engineer managing requirements and verification for an aerospace defense company. I started my career working on several missile programs, which included modeling system performance and testing our algorithms.

After a couple years of this work, I was slowly confronted with the moral demands of the job. In brief, I was working on optimizing the performance of weapons used to kill people. It was easy to hide behind statements like "it's for national defense," "we need a deterrent to prevent more conflict," or "plenty of Christians work in this field" - after all, I spent every day working in a community of people who genuinely believed this work is good. However, I had never actually considered the alternative myself, until I encountered several key sermons and Biblical passages that challenged this status quo. The core of it centered on Jesus' teaching in Matthew 5:38-48. Instead of assuming that working on weapons systems is in line with the Christian life, these lessons challenged me to reconsider the serious implications of Jesus' teachings on non-violence and enemy love. Through this reevaluation, I learned that allegiance with Jesus means a love of all peoples and a rejection of violence, particularly towards enemies. Because of this, I was strongly convicted to leave the projects I had been working on in favor of one that aligned with a non-violent ethic.

This transition was intimidating. For one, I really enjoyed and worked well with the team. I had also joined this team rather recently, and I would have to explain this personal reasoning to my manager to justify moving on so soon. I was really worried to be met with rejection, judgment, and even anger - as I mentioned, many people I work with strongly believe that this work is necessary and good for the world. Instead, I was met with respect and acceptance. My manager (also a believer) may not agree with my conclusions on Jesus’ teachings, but he fully supported my need to live by them. He was quick to connect me with several other projects to find one that I could support with both my talents and convictions. Everyone on my team was also very receptive and encouraging, and one fellow believer even told me he was struggling through some of the same decisions and that my openness was an encouragement to him.

This journey has been one of both internal struggle and deep repentance - but it has also been one of great wonder at God’s mercy and goodness. Through the process, God has shown me again and again how he desires all parts of my life - including work - to align with his kingdom, and that he will open doors to make that possible. Taking the step to follow him can certainly be scary, with risks of rejection or job insecurity, but He has never stopped providing for us as we trust in Him. I'm excited to see the next area of my life that Jesus confronts with his bold teaching!

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