I was visiting my friend’s church today when I heard her pastor speaking about social entrepreneurship during his sermon. I was pretty sure that I understood the definition but decided to look it up once I got home just to be sure.
One website that I searched indicated that a social entrepreneur was an “individual with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. A social entrepreneur is ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change. Rather than leaving societal needs to the government or business sectors, a social entrepreneur finds what is not working and solves the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading entire societies to take new leaps” (www.ashoka.org/social_entrepreneur). This led me to ask myself whether Jesus was a social entrepreneur.
It seems to me that Jesus’ life precisely followed the definition of a social entrepreneur. In fact, He most likely invented the concept of a true social entrepreneur.
We know, according to what we read in the Bible, that Jesus certainly had to be ambitious and persistent in introducing Christianity to the world. Prior to the birth of Jesus Christ, there were no Christians. It was only after Jesus appointed twelve apostles and set out to teach the world about God that Christianity came into existence. Teaching the world about a loving Father who created all that exists, including humankind, was unheard of prior to Christ’s aspiring undertaking (Genesis). A mission of this magnitude would also have required persistence in an unfavorable world that predominantly worshiped idols or false gods. Even Christ’s own apostles were hostile to His objective at times during the early beginnings of Christianity and needed Christ’s resolve to convince them to follow Him. One of Christ’s apostles, Paul, persecuted and killed Christians before surrendering his life to Jesus and becoming a devout follower (Acts 9).
Additionally, Jesus tackled major social issues during His time on this earth by teaching us to love one another as He loves us and to serve each other. Jesus includes all of us who accept Him into His loving family for eternity. He gave people then and continues to give them today a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves. He inspires us to give that same love and feeling of belonging to others. During the early days of Christianity, this new concept of loving and serving others offered wide-ranging change but was no small feat to accomplish. Jesus came to save the world from its sins and gave His life for us so that we would be forgiven (New Testament). Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice in a successful attempt to change the world as it existed. His death and resurrection caused a monumental shift in the lives of those that chose to follow Him and continues to have that same effect on the lives of those that choose to follow him today.
Furthermore, Jesus didn’t seek the assistance of the ruling government or look to businesses to resolve the problems that He encountered. Jesus took it upon Himself to heal the sick (Matthew 4:23; Mark 7:30; Mark 10:45; Luke 6:16; Matthew 15: 28-30; Matthew 8:4), to bless (Mark 10:13; Luke 18:15; Matthew 19:13), to wash the feet of his disciples (John 13: 1-17) , to raise the dead (Mark 5: 21-43; John 11: 1-45), to feed the masses (Matthew 14: 13-21), among other things, all in an attempt to bring about a positive change in a sinful world that failed to properly serve its people. Jesus, by paving the way and setting the example for His church to follow, was and is the ultimate social entrepreneur. To this day, due to the profound impact that began when Jesus walked upon this earth, the world continues to yearn to know and to follow Him. And we as Christians continue His social entrepreneurship or mission by serving others and teaching them about God.
Susan J. Calloway Knowles is a Licensed Christian Marriage & Family Therapist and former practicing Family Law Attorney. She is also a Christian music Songwriter and Author. Susan’s songs can be found at www.worshipsong.com. Susan’s new book “Freedom’s Fight: A Call to Remember” is available on amazon.com. Her website is www.susanknowles.com.