God loves the whole world—not just a single person, culture, or nation.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine).
God loves the entire world. And that should change everything about how we live, think, and act.
How we look at the world is a driving force behind who we are and what we do. When I think upon the fact that God gave his son so that all the world could be saved—not just me—I am confronted with my own selfishness. How often do I think about my felt needs over the needs of the planet?
I’m not just talking about recycling here. I’m talking about the need to move from a “me as the center of my concerns” viewpoint to a “other people being the center of my concerns” worldview.
Being a Christian requires shifting our viewpoint. We need to shift our focus to our neighbors and outstretch our arms to the nations, like Jesus did when he outstretched his arms on the cross. We need to change the way we interpret our world—so that God and his work is our focus. But how do we do so? That starts with praising God.
When we praise God, our focus shifts. It moves from "me, you, us" to "God working among all of us." Consider what the psalmist says:
“I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations” (Psalm 108:3 ESV).
If us Christians were to praise God as the psalmist does, I believe we would see a significant change in our world. People would hear about who God is, rather than who we are, and be moved by that God.
As people see Christians praising God because of his great work in the world, they will be moved by our worship. They will wonder about this God and what he means to us. And this praise will lead each of us to action, on behalf of the hurting, marginalized, and outcast.
Praising God can be hard in an ego-focused world. It's much easier to pay attention to our newsfeeds, think about what everyone else is doing, and then get disenfranchised. But there is one surefire way to change that perspective: make the focus caring for other people. For me, this is where addressing poverty comes in.
I could spend my days focused on my difficulties; or I can spend them focused on empowering other people. I could spend my days listening to the "scoffers" of the world, and letting sinful desires take over, or I could choose to sacrifice for the betterment of our world. On this point, the apostle Peter, near the end of his life, offers these comforting words to Christians:
“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires” (2 Peter 3:1–3 ESV).
We can have hope in the promises of God and his work. God should be praised because he has spoken through his prophets. God should be praised because he has come incarnate as Jesus, the savior of the whole world. That's to whom we look, not the scoffers and not our sinful desires.
We can look beyond our current circumstances and into the future of what God is doing and how he will move. God’s global perspective allows for us to shift our focus, even when things are difficult for us personally.
God loves the entire world. But when I focus on my needs, I easily forget that. God loves the entire world. But when I focus on my community alone, I easily forget that. God loves the whole world. But when I focus on my nation alone, I easily forget that.
But when I refocus on God's love of the entire world, all of the sudden my felt needs don't seem like such a big deal. My community's needs can become ways to help other communities. And my country's needs can become ways to meet the needs of the world. God loves all of us.
Our worldview affects what we do and how we think. It affects our attitudes and it affects our world. God loves the entire world. Prayerfully consider that.
*This article is adapted, in part, from my previous article, "God Loves the Entire World and That's About to Change Everything."
It's been almost 30 years, but there was a semester when I was carefree and my choices didn't feel so frantic. I lived with only a thin foam mattress, an orange milk crate holding three t-shirts and two pairs of jeans, and a bike. That baby blue Schwinn got me from my apartment on El Cajon Boulevard and the only other places I needed to go: two classes at San Diego State University and my boyfriend's house. We only had 20 bucks at any given time, so there weren't many options. Of course, who needs money when you have young love and a sandy beach?
That was a long time ago. Today, I have more resources and more stuff which brings with it a boatload of options. I no longer grab one of three t-shirts without a thought. Now, I stand in the closet, wondering what I will possibly wear. Endless decisions shrink us into pin-balling, muddle minded undeciders who no longer know what we want out of life.
I'd like to think that that world is my oyster. We have never had more opportunity and freedom to decide. I just hate to admit that 55 coffee options on a swanky chalkboard confuse rather than empower me. I feel the endless decisions as if I'm suffocating, or at least bleeding. I only know this because I've written about choices for over ten years.
One of my unpaid jobs is to write, so I sit a lot. Drafts become boring and stressful because I don't make any money, so I look for opportunities to procrastinate. I could still choose a baby blue Schwinn, but now I like to walk. I head outside as much as I can without feeling as if I'm wasting time. The exercise clears my mind while I think about the next sentence.
Sometimes I walk just for a word.
I also get outside to wrestle with my thoughts on how I can empower people to become better decision makers. I don't find the right answers staring at social media all day, at least answers that God tries to quietly whisper to my own spirit and hopefully yours. The Bible helps, but so do the walks.
So much of this non-fiction is about a single verse in an old book, but the following pages are also the result of an awareness that happens when our eyes are up walking in the world, instead of gazing down at life on a screen. The text is meant to be a tool to help us step away from the multitude of choices, take a sabbatical from the rat race, and ask ourselves why we do things just because we learn them from our mom.
The walking also makes a space in my mind for powerful metaphors.
On one of my walks, I noticed blood on the sidewalk. It was dark red, dried up, and dribbled all along the pavement. How did the blood get here? Did the sufferer know she was even making a mess?
The thought brought me back to the day I wore white pants to work and a fellow co-worker stopped me to ask what was wrong with my leg. Turned out, I had cut myself shaving in the morning rush to check in by 8:00 A.M., and during my 30 minute commute to Seattle, I bled like a banshee through my linen trouser leg.
I didn't know I was bleeding until someone pointed it out.
Today I want to do for you what my co-worker did for me. The metaphor lies within these questions:
Are you wounded and bleeding from decisions you've made?
Are you choosing from a true place within the unique soul God created when He carefully formed you?
Are your closets and cupboards full, but you have no time?
Are the choices you make today setting you up for freedom or slavery down the road?
This excerpt is from Kim Galgano's redemptive memoir The Chance to Choose. Galgano is the founder of Chicks with Choices ™ and Dudes with Decisions ™, outreach ministries devoted to help people blend faith with everyday decisions and uncover the unique path they were meant to live. You can order The Chance to Choose here. A portion of the proceeds from The Chance to Choose will be donated to empowering women in Bihar, India via Jesus' Economy.
We all have moments of despair, but there are also the days when the sun peaks through the clouds and we stop and say, “You know, God really is here and working among us. I’m not alone at all.” It’s these moments that we have to capitalize on. These feelings of new life, of resurrection, can transform our lives and the lives of others.
The last month has been rough for me. I have often felt like everything is going the opposite way it should. But today, I realize that Jesus is here. It’s not that I didn’t believe that before—of course, I did—but today I feel like he is sitting next to me. When I think about Jesus’ presence among us, about his resurrected life, I imagine how Mary Magdalene must have felt upon seeing the resurrected Jesus. John’s Gospel records:
“Mary stood outside at the tomb, weeping. Then, while she was weeping, she bent over to look into the tomb, and she saw two angels in white, seated one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have put him!’ When she had said these things, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?’ She thought that it was the gardener, and said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned around and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni’ (which means ‘Teacher’). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, and my God and your God.” ’ Mary Magdalene came and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord.’” (John 20:11–18 LEB).
When you encounter the living Jesus, in the midst of despair, everything changes.
Here’s how my viewpoint recently changed: I just had the wonderful opportunity of announcing that the organization I lead, Jesus’ Economy, will be able to fund two church planters in northern India for another year. For us, reaching this goal was huge and difficult. And honestly, I wasn’t sure if we would make it. But I also couldn’t bear the thought of not living up to our commitment to fund these two church planters for three years.
The prompting of being on mission for Jesus, in proclamation of his resurrection, is what kept me going through this rough patch. And God coming through inspired me.
I believe the resurrected Jesus will keep you going, no matter what you’re going through.
I often think of what various holidays are like for those serving Jesus around the world—and of course, I especially think of our church planters in northern India.
Our church planters in northern India are living self-sacrificially everyday, spreading the gospel to those who have never heard Jesus’ name. Their lives are living testimonies of who Jesus is. And this puts it all in perspective for me: all of my difficulties do not remotely compare to their hardships. And yet, they get the splendid opportunity of seeing Jesus work everyday—which really makes it all worth it.
Easter resurrection is something real for church planters in northern India: They regularly see lives fully transformed by Jesus. And so, their lives make me wonder how much better and fuller my life would be if I could make the same kind of sacrifice. This makes me think of Jesus’ words just prior to the cross:
“This is my commandment: that you love one another just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this: that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12–13 LEB).
Living resurrected life with Jesus means living self-sacrificially. And that changes everything. It makes every difficulty an opportunity to do something good for someone else. It takes the perspective off of us, and puts the perspective on God’s workings in the world.
Until this last month, I thought of thankfulness as an attitude, but it’s so much more. Thankfulness is a perspective we look at the world through. As we are grateful for the resurrected life of Christ, and the resurrected life he offers us, our worldview changes. It’s not about saying, “Oh, I’m so grateful I have all this (whatever this is for you).” Thankfulness is saying, “Oh, I’m so grateful that Jesus came for me (for all of us), and that he is with me now—right here.” Saint Paul put it this way:
“One person prefers one day over another day, and another person regards every day alike [for the Sabbath and festivals]. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who is intent on the day is intent on it for the Lord, and the one who eats eats for the Lord [in celebration], because he is thankful to God, and the one who does not eat does not eat for the Lord [that is he fasts], and he is thankful to God. For none of us lives for himself and none dies for himself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For Christ died and became alive again for this reason, in order that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living” (Romans 14:5–9 LEB).
Paul is talking about various viewpoints for feasting, celebration, worship services, and fasting among his audience, but this has a direct implication for us. Whatever we do, let us do it for Christ, in thankfulness—in order that he might be Lord over all things in our lives, in every season.
It’s this perspective that perfectly fits with the Easter season, when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection for each of us, for all of us. This season we celebrate Jesus’ resurrected life and his resurrection of our lives.
I’m not saying that this sorts everything out; like all of us, I still get depressed along the way. But today on the other side of this, I feel different—today, I realize that God is much greater than I could ever imagine. Today, I realize that he indeed always comes through—he resurrects our efforts and turns them into something beautiful.
The international non-profit, Hungry for Life, has based its mission on Jesus' words in John 10:10 (ESV), "...I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." They serve the church, facilitating its work of compassion and justice in the world, so that the world may experience the power of Jesus through worship and worldwide compassion.
Kalene Barry, Chief Project Officer for Jesus' Economy interviews Mike on today's Live Your Beliefs podcast.
Hungry for Life's mission is to facilitate opportunities for people to know the power and presence of Jesus Christ through worship and worldwide compassion. They have offices in both the US and Canada. Find out more about how you can get involved with Hungry for Life. They are currently looking for regional representatives throughout the US.
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Our world is more interconnected than ever before. And that means that the gospel can finally reach its full fruition as Jesus intended. Today is the day that we change our world. The time is now.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16 is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible, but are we overlooking something critical about it? In our new VLOG, I tell you about an often overlooked part of this beloved verse and its implications about each and every one of us.
For the rest of June, our "Around the World" series will bring you posts about simple and profound things happening around our planet. We will discuss how God is at work everywhere, as well as the work that we believe he wants to do. We will tell you about everything from summer fashion around the world, to God's global perspective according to the Bible, to how people are having fun with water (but also need it).
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