by Morris Ruddick on March 6, 2016


© Morris E. Ruddick

Ghandi once commented that the teachings of Jesus are beautiful. His caveat was that if only he could find one real Christian.JWrksp1792b

Ghandi’s claim was that he liked Christ, but that the Jesus followers he had met were unlike Him. His observation is a reflection of what the world sees in the faith that believers put in action.

Yet, Abraham was viewed as a prince by the sons of Heth, one of the dominant societies in his region The powerful biblical leader Abimelech’s response to Isaac, Abraham’s son was: “We see that the Lord has been with you. Let us make a covenant that you do us no harm.” Pharaoh’s discernment of Joseph was: “Can we find such a man as this, one in whom is the spirit of God?”

What Jesus imparted was not a philosophy or new religion. It was a dimension of reality bridging the natural and the spiritual. It was a reality, a threshold in God, that impacted everything. From the early days of God’s people walking with Him, this reality of God, seen through His people, was recognized and acknowledged with awe as God manifesting. This dimension, this corridor of walking with God incorporated the knowledge of God with His ways, His truth.

It was this dimension that Jesus referred to as the Kingdom of God. It is both the gateway and pathway into knowing God. It involves what Jesus referred to as “abiding” or the process of abandoning ourselves to become one with God.

Jewish Foundations
This truth came from the foundations of what Jesus referred to as the law and prophets, which He noted that He had not come to change. They are foundational.

Jesus spoke very clearly to the issue of these foundations, of what we refer to as “our faith.” As a Jew, Jesus made the point that He had come to bring completion to what Jews referred to as “the law,” or the torah and the prophets.

Yet, what followed digressed into the institutionalization of “the faith.” This institutionalizing of the faith resulted in the loss of two key things: the foundations and the power that resulted, the result when what Jesus imparted is truly grasped and set in motion

The Struggle for the Foundations
Instead, historically one generation beyond those of the first-century church and those so remarkably touched by this new dimension of the foundations, began seeing the replacement of the power of God with human effort. While retaining some of the essence of the faith, the effect lost the vibrancy of the foundations. The progressively embattled result became something akin to the settling of the wild west in America, which was polluted with lawlessness and corruption.

What played out in the next couple of centuries among the followers of Jesus was a serious division over matters foundational to the faith and with that a struggle for power.

When the foundations are restored, the Jesus I know and serve will not be misperceived as the son of Mr. and Mrs. Christ or as having His birthplace in the Vatican. Jesus was a good Jewish boy who God sovereignly entrusted to a good Jewish home. He grew up expounding on the “law and the prophets.”

However, in the early fourth century the struggle that ensued between those who adhered to the foundations and those who were institutionalizing the church converged with an unusual Roman emperor whose mother was reported to be a believer.

In response to a battle he won, the emperor Constantine made Christianity the religion of his realm and in the process, he sided with the institutionalizers. In that process, the Jewish foundations of the faith were expunged. The church that resulted started opposing anything related to the Jewishness of the good news, this fullness to the foundations laid out by Jesus, the Jewish Messiah.

This shift from the foundations marked the beginning of what some refer to as the dark ages. It resulted in a growing number of church leaders and sects taking a stand against Jews and anything Jewish tied to the “faith.” It progressively produced deep rifts in the relationship with any of the Jewish faith with atrocities that created ripples that extend to this day.

The Foundations Recovered
Yet today, God is not only sovereignly restoring the Jewish roots to Christianity, but the biblical foundations of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to the Jewish people. These Jewish roots to the faith represent the foundations to be recovered. They are what was missing and caused Ghandi to say he liked Christ, but did not consider any of the Jesus followers he had met to be like Him.

To understand these foundations, how they affect what Jesus referred to as “the Kingdom” and how they impact every aspect of our lives: the mix of the economic, culture and power, we need to begin with the patriarch Abraham. Abraham is considered the father of the Jewish people. But before we talk about Abraham and how this all started, I’d like to outline some of the factors that are pertinent to this culture of business navigated by the people the world has accepted as being a people of business, the Jews.

The People of Business
Over the millennia the Jewish people not only have succeeded in retaining their cultural identity, but with disproportionate achievement have served as catalysts and influencers to the civilizations that would rise and fall around them, like the Greeks, the Romans, the Assyrians, the Ottomans, the Babylonians and others.

Historically, in civilizations without a middle class, the Jewish people have served that function, as merchants and bankers and people of business. They have been advisors to kings, rulers and leaders and financed national agendas in the societies in which they lived.

Yet, as a people, Jews have been distinctive. As a people, they have released nuggets of wisdom from the roots of their faith that have impacted the foundations: economically, governmentally, judicially, and morally, for what is now considered as the good and enduring virtues and values within Western civilization.

Today, despite being only one-fourth of one percent of the world’s population, since 1950, Jews have been the recipients of 27 percent of the Nobel prizes awarded. Studies such as “The Golden Age of Jewish Achievement” and “Startup Nation” attest to their modern-day contributions, which statisticians would view as “beyond chance expectation.”

In short, Jewish strategies have resulted in them outliving, as a people, the civilizations of which they have been a part. The keys to this remarkable phenomenon lie in the restoration of the foundations and its long-term, enduring model.

Pertinent Ancient Foundations
Identity. As already noted, at the foundations of Jewish culture is their identity. Jews hold to the belief of being a prophetic people of God whose ways reflect the pattern of their forefather Abraham: to be blessed to be a blessing. This distinction has been both unique and pertinent to their destiny. For the most part, they have resisted assimilation and from age to age they have maintained their unique identity as a culture within a culture.

Jews share with many Asian cultures the distinction of having had their share of centuries as a conquered people, yet without losing their foundations culturally that have made them unique and strong. Jewish and Asian diasporas share in both having retained their cultural identities and serving as positive influencers to the cultures of which they have become a part.

Community. Jewish beliefs nurture the dynamic of community much more than Western cultures. Historically Jews are an Eastern culture. As a culture within a culture, Jewish communities tend to operate with an approach of being a trust society. They foster entrepreneurship and creativity from within and build incisively from the bottom-up.

Self-Sufficiency. Within that context, community-wise, when adhering to their standards, they operate in a self-regulated, self-sufficiency within their communities. Self sufficiency will result from discipline, excellence and dependable stewardship. It is why Jews have succeeded even when the societies around them have made untenable legal requirements and even contained them within ghettos. Even during severe times of persecution, Jews typically have mastered fostering the type of stewardship that serves and reflects excellence, while profiting and overcoming.

Gifts.  Jewish communities are known for nurturing and mentoring emerging generations to excel as individuals, yet for the benefit of community. Everyone has a gift. First defining one’s gift and then developing it to where what is being done stands out in excellence among others represents something that can be successfully commercialized. It is also the foundation of true leadership.

Leadership. The Jewish brand of leadership has the distinction of operating best through influence and service. Jesus described this brand of influence as being the salt of the earth, a city on a hill that cannot be hidden. As a people, Jews are disciplined and are willing to pay the cost to live according to a higher standard, as well as to sacrifice for the future of their people.

Moral Standards. With many similarities to the ancient roots of some key Asian peoples, Jews are a moral society. Their distinctive identity upholds the standards of community, entrepreneurship, innovation, excellence and industriousness. While not exempt from corruption, Jewish standards in business, community and seats of power do tend to be higher, with corrupt practices less tolerated.

However, these moral standards are significant. They form a part of knowing God’s ways. They explain why certain Asian cultures have excelled in business without knowing the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. However, moral standards are only a part of God’s ways. That’s the point of taking a closer look at the foundations embraced by Jews.

These observations provide the practical keys to opportunity. A recent Wall Street Journal article (Vietnamese Lessons for Burma, Chin and Collazo, 20 Nov 2013) has challenged whether Vietnam’s doi moi economic reforms have lost their momentum and Vietnam, Asia’s shining star for foreign investment, its advantage.

The answer lies within. Foreign investment will stir the economy, but building an enduring economy will follow the wisdom from the Jews, from within. That brings us back to the issue of the foundations and business. Jews have mastered the way they merge the economic with community and the spiritual.

Bottom-Up Foundations
Long-term economic growth that helps society as a whole requires bottom-up economic foundations. This doesn’t discount either the opportunity or importance of leveraged development from top-down investment activity or business accelerator strategies.

Nevertheless, while the term “start-ups” and “small business” in the West has tended to embrace a threshold of anything under 20 million USD annually; the threshold tied to the foundations that has evolved from the people of business needs to be lower.

Healthy economic structures need to foster family-owned businesses that employ a handful of employees and serve a local neighborhood. In places like Vietnam, the reality is that a healthy ratio of Vietnam’s GDP (roughly a fourth) comes from what has begun being referred to as the “sidewalk economy.”

Historically in the West, some of the current, longest-lasting, more stable, larger organizations have grown from very humble beginnings. Ford Motor Company began in a garage. Again, this premise reflects the centuries-old approach employed by the people whose renown has been as a people of business and finance: the Jews.

What is most pertinent and warrants examination is the Jewish model which merges the spiritual, economic and community. From age to age, this model has operated with consistent success despite adversities and the very different, but dominant cultures of which Jews have been a part.

Cultural Compatibility and Entrepreneurship
A highly respected social economist has uncovered some unique insights into these issues in his examination of economies and cultures in “Trust: Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity.” Francis Fukuyama contends that social capital may be as important as physical capital.

Dr. Fukuyama holds that only societies with a high degree of social trust will create the foundations needed for the large-scale business organizations that compete in today’s global economy.

Nevertheless, large-scale organizations are only a part of the equation. Former Cambridge University entrepreneurial expert and author, Bill Bolton, stresses the importance of the creative and innovative dimensions which drive economic opportunity and the dynamic of entrepreneurship.

The challenge lies in the foundation of the economic structure. While the West has repeatedly gone through a process of reinventing the venture capital and “accelerator” investment models for fast-growth organizations; investment trends can be fickle and at times, abruptly cyclic. The reality is that without a firm foundation of entrepreneurship with community-level businesses; the economic structure will eventually soften and become top-heavy.

So, in wrapping up this brief introduction to Jewish business secrets, I want you to view this as a journey that we’re taking together. We’re going to look at foundations that fit into three categories: the spiritual, the entrepreneurial and the community and how they relate together.

What I’m outlining is a way of thinking. It taps the creative. It bears on your gifts, which we’ll also talk more about. But more importantly it significantly impacts what we each call our destinies.

In this series, some of the highlights we will be addressing include both very practical and foundational issues like:

  • The Model: The God-Centered, Entrepreneurial, Community Matrix
  • Your Destiny Gifts: Developing your natural, spiritual and entrepreneurial gifts
  • Entrepreneurship and God’s Economy: Create, innovate, build, multiply
  • Anointed Planning: Learning to plan with God’s guidance
  • Financial Stewardship: The pathway to mastering financial cycles and growth
  • The Dynamic of Increase: Community responsibility and generosity
  • The Creative Advantage: Practical application of harnessing the spiritual
  • Opportunity in Crisis: Entering God’s economy and succeeding in tough times
  • Understanding the Times: Prophetic insights into these times of change
  • The Power Factor: The reality of God and how good overcomes adversity
  • Success Groups: A Jewish strategy for business success and opportunity
  • Community Building:  Understanding God’s purposes for business
  • Jewish Strategies of Leadership: Keys to becoming agents of change
  • The Kingdom Factor: The paradox that restores the power and foundations.

What we’re going to be covering was what was missing in the lives of the Christians that Ghandi had encountered, yet remains the essence of who Jesus is and the teachings He imparted. As has been written by the prophet Jeremiah:
“Stand at the crossroads and look. Then ask for the ancient paths, where the good way lies. Then walk in it and you will find rest for your souls.” Jeremiah 6:16

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