Everyone who serves God is called to represent him in some capacity. In our minds, we mostly think that the Lord uses us best when we are involved in a church or parachurch group specifically focused on carrying out Biblical goals. Yes, he does some great things through those venues. However, judging from what is recorded in the Bible, the Lord has also been known to do some marvelous works even in secular circles, some of which were the darkest places that you would think no saint should ever be associated with.
Take for instance, Obadiah in 1 Kings 18. He was in charge of Ahab and Jezebel’s household, the most wicked king and queen Israel had ever known. They absolutely hated Jehovah’s worshipers and had many of them murdered. Yet we find this curious statement in 1 Kings 18:3, “(Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly…” Then we are told how he saved 100 prophets of God, hid them, and fed them. How could a saint possibly work for such vile employers?
Despite the darkness that surrounded him, Obadiah proved faithful and not only did he fulfill the godly purpose of having access to enough resources in the idolatrous palace to save a hundred godly prophets, the Lord used him to announce Elijah’s arrival to Ahab. That announcement was for the purpose of setting the stage for Elijah’s famous contest against the prophets of Baal to show God’s power.
Another saint in a strange place was Daniel. He served in the governments of several pagan kings from two different empires starting with Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. In the midst of all those pagans and all their pagan practices, not once do we ever hear of him compromising his devotion to the Lord and God used him mightily to give us some of the most important, most memorable principles on dream interpretation and prophecies with ramifications even in our times.
Then, of course, there’s Esther. As far as we know, she was the first woman of God to participate in a secular beauty pageant. But she turned out to be much more than a pretty face and beautiful body who defeated her beauty pageant competitors. She married a pagan king which placed her in the right place at the right time to use her brains and godly wisdom to annihilate a wicked plot backed by an unjust, ungodly law across an entire empire hatched by Haman to destroy her people, the Jews. In the Bible book bearing her name, not once do we see the Lord’s name mentioned, but her actions spoke loudly of who she was really serving.
Finally, I’ll highlight the saints “of Caesar’s household” Paul mentioned in Philippians 4:22. They were obviously supporting his ministry and ministering to him in some capacity as well as to the other saints in Rome at the time. All of this was being done as they served Nero, one of the most infamous tyrants history has ever known.
If these saints were alive today, we in today’s church might pressure them to quit their positions in protest to the policies of those they served, but their uncompromising testimonies in the “neutral zones” of secular society (i.e. they probably wouldn’t work in a strip club) prove that God can have his agents of change in the darkest of places at the darkest of times to serve as his saints in the strangest places.