No generation is exactly like the one before it. We share the difficulties and rewards of being citizens of this earth—and being able to experience God—but everything else is different. Technology advances, the pace of life changes, and the ways we engage our world evolve. For better or worse, this generation is different from all others before it.
When I look at our world, I see a place that’s more interconnected than ever before. I see the opportunity to leverage these connections to transform lives. I see that, for the first time in all of history, we could very well bring the news of God’s freedom, in Jesus, to the ends of the earth.
Peter tells us that Jesus has not returned yet because of God’s great patience, because “he does not want any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). Nearly 3 billion people—42 percent of the world’s population—have not heard the name of Jesus. And over 1 million neighborhoods do not have a church.1
The type of freedom that God’s people experienced during the exodus is the freedom we can present to others today. Jesus is ready to set people free from the burdens of pain, anguish, and sin. He’s ready to transform and renew our world. Justice and mercy can reign in our world—but it starts with you; it starts with me.
The freedom of Jesus is rooted in what we say and do to reveal him to others every day. It’s rooted in our care of the impoverished and our hospitality for all people. It’s based on our love for those around us. It’s all about truly caring for people and showing them that there is hope in Christ our Lord.
Christ offers us freedom—a freedom that’s meant to reach our entire world. From the cries of Israel in exile to the longings of the enslaved today, God hears us. He is ready to act. Are we ready to act with him?
Get into the Word, but also do what the Word asks. Love and serve Jesus. Live your beliefs. Practice self-sacrifice. Truly love, dangerously. Alleviate poverty. Bring the gospel to your neighborhood and world. Offer the freedom of Jesus, all the way to the ends of the earth.
— John D. Barry
P.S. This letter will also appear in Bible Study Magazine Nov–Dec 2014, which is my last issue as editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. Rebecca Van Noord is the new editor-in-chief. She loves Jesus and is passionate about Bible study. Rebecca has been managing editor of Bible Study Magazine since April 2011 and has been with the publication since April 2010. She is a fantastic editor and an accomplished author. Rebecca coauthored Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional and co-edited 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. I look forward to you experiencing even more of her creativity. It’s been an honor to serve Jesus as Bible Study Magazine’s editor-in-chief.
1 Statistics taken from the Joshua Project and the Issachar Initiative (respectively).