At a number of points in Scripture, God uses those who aren’t his followers, to bring about his purposes. One example, in the Book of Ezra, concerns Cyrus the Persian.
In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the Lord stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia so that he sent a herald throughout all his kingdom, and also in a written edict declared: “Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah…” (Ezra 1:1-2)
Remarkably, God chooses to appoint someone not of God’s people to do the work of the Lord. God is not restricted to bringing about his redemptive purposes by working solely through his own people. Like Ezra (and later in the story, Nehemiah) we also can work with non-believers to redeem the world.
One way of doing this is partnering with individuals and organizations who are seeking to improve the economic realities of the poor in all kinds of ways. There are many non-Christian individuals and institutions undertaking great work in providing meaningful employment, small business opportunities, poverty relief and community development. We can work in solidarity and partnership with such people and causes. Of course, we need to be discerning here. It is important to ensure that the effects of such partnerships are consistent with biblical aims and values.
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