This weekend, I was at the Promise Keepers conference in Ottawa, with my friend Chima Mbagwu. After registration last night, we walked into the gymnasium of The Met, where there were lots of books on display, for sale.
I was drawn to Shane Claiborne’s books because I think he speaks to and is being how I want to be. I purchased and started to read The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. From the book, I so see that following Jesus requires radicalism. It does not mean ceasing to be an entrepreneur and becoming a Shane Claiborne or a Mother Theresa. It means being Tolulope Ilesanmi, the entrepreneur whose primary allegiance is to Jesus Christ, no matter what cross I have to carry to keep my allegiance to Him.
It may mean not fitting into the mold of a typical Christian or typical social entrepreneur or typical husband or typical father. To me, it means practically, with everything that makes me unique, making Jesus Christ Lord. When He is Lord, there will be justice, healing, peace, abundant life within my area of control and influence.
When Jesus Christ is Lord, I will be more interested in connecting with people, even those who are not like me, than judging them. The first speaker at the Promise Keepers conference, Pastor Lennett Anderson said, “God is more interested in connecting with you than correcting you.” I think that is what Jesus Christ is like and that is what His lordship makes me want to do.
As an entrepreneur whose primary allegiance is to Jesus, I will practice business rooted in love rather than greed. When Jesus is Lord, I will care much more about the wellbeing of our stakeholders than my personal profit, since Jesus invites us to rethink wealth and possessions. I will count my wealth not in terms of how much I keep but how much I distribute to others.
It has always been clear to me but it seems even clearer that Jesus Christ and what He demands of his followers, is the answer to poverty, injustice, inequality, and everything that needs to be restored in the world, today.
Jesus Christ did not just come to prepare us to go to heaven but he invites us to heal and to restore in this world, now. He invites, he asks us to make the will of God established on earth as it is in heaven. He invites us not to look (intentionally or systematically) away from injustice and suffering and pain around us but to become present with them. Not just to suffer injustice or pain ourselves but to remove it, even if that means leaving our comfort zones.
He left the glories and splendor of heaven to be present with cursed us not just so he might be cursed like us but so he might redeem us from the curse and replace the curse with the blessing. Following Jesus demands that I go where there is pain, where there is poverty, where there is suffering, where there is hunger and thirst, as a redemptive agent. It means restoring individuals but also dismantling the systems (principalities and powers) that keep individuals in oppression and perpetuate suffering.
This has it’s challenges but even as an entrepreneur I am convinced that being a follower not just a believer in Jesus Christ, is what I was made for. I am convinced that I come fully alive when I go towards, not away from the hurting. I am convinced, even as I also heard this weekend, that I am healed when I heal. I receive when I give, I am restored when I restore, I am loved when I love. Who wouldn’t want that?
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