by John D. Barry
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).
How We Look at the World Changes What We Do
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 realize that I do not always act like that is the case. How often do I think about my felt needs over the needs of the planet?
I’m not just talking about recycling here—which is a good idea, of course. 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” viewpoint.
Being a Christian means 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.
Praising God is Part of Shifting Our Viewpoint
Our praise for God should cause others to praise him. We should think as the psalmist does:
“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 we praised God as the psalmist does—ensuring that others heard our praises of God—I believe we would see a significant change in our world. People would hear about who he is and what he is doing and be moved by it. As people see Christians praising God because of his great work in the world, they will be moved by our worship to take action themselves. By praising God for his work around the entire world, we can put in a good word for Jesus, explaining how he has transformed our lives.
But praise is not so easy for many.
I Feel Disheartened about Today’s Circumstances
I regularly feel disheartened; I think we all do, if we’re really honest with ourselves. And as someone who has struggled with depression, I am even more aware than most of when I am feeling a bit down and out. But tackling poverty has helped me move beyond my own demotivating thoughts to a greater perspective.
Tackling poverty requires looking beyond today’s circumstances towards the future of what God wants to do. It has been through tackling poverty that I have been able to overcome many of the things that usually make me depressed. The work of empowering people in the developing world to overcome poverty forces you to think globally. It makes you look beyond yourself, to see how God is at work all over the world.
It is in having a type of global perspective that I find the ability to overcome negative feelings. I find comfort when I reflect upon how God is at work everywhere, orchestrating powerful changes for the world through his people, Spirit, and angels. Using these same ideas, and near the end of his life, Peter 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).
It is easy to be a hater and a scoffer. And false teachers will preach against what God is doing—Peter is primarily speaking against them in his letter. But we can have hope in the promises of God and his work. 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 hard.
Allowing for God to Shift My Focus
God’s global perspective has also changed the way I view my efforts as a non-profit leader and as a publisher: Is what I’m doing to empower a particular community not just good for them, but all of humanity? Is it possible for me to publish content that will help the entire human race, not just one people group?
God is moving towards empowering the nations. It is within his plan. So why would I not want to be a part of it? The prophet says in Isaiah 52:10:
“The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”
The prophet goes on to reveal how the suffering servant is the figure that will bring this about (Isaiah 53:10–12). And it is in Jesus that this is fulfilled and that all people can come to God.
Having a Global Perspective on Prayer
The idea that God has a global perspective has also changed the way I pray. Why is God not saying “yes” to my request? Perhaps it has a negative affect upon someone else—and in my finite perspective, I can’t see that. I can’t point to a particular Scripture to back this up; it is just a hunch. After all, didn’t the disciples pray that Jesus would be freed? It sure seems likely. But if Jesus was freed before he reached the cross, we all would be without salvation (see Isaiah 53:10).
And this reveals something essential about prayer: Prayer is meant to center us upon who God is and what he wants to do. It’s not really about us—although it involves us. It is about him. And it is a chance for us to give others a great gift—prayer intercession on their behalf.
How often do I pray about my community, my company, and my life, before turning to the nations? When I hear a sad news story, do I pray only when it seems that it will affect me in some way? I hope that my emphasis isn’t on things related to me, but my concern is that it very well may be.
I am ready to shift my focus to God’s global perspective—and believe I can do so—but I know that it is only in God’s good grace and strength that I can do so. It is only through God that I can make significant changes (Philippians 4:13). Are you ready to focus on God’s global perspective?
John D. Barry is the CEO and Founder of Jesus’ Economy, dedicated to creating jobs and churches in the developing world. Because of John’s belief that business can also transform lives, Jesus’ Economy also provides an online fair trade shop. He is currently leading Jesus’ Economy efforts to Renew Bihar, India—one of the most impoverished places in the world where few have heard the name of Jesus.