If you only had three years to do a monumental project, what would you do? Chance has it that you would clear the deck, ignore most people, and just focus on that singular initiative. You would have little time for people and their random problems. But Jesus had an entirely different approach.

In this sermon, I look at Jesus' decision to stop on the Road to Jericho to not just heal a man but to engage in a conversation (Luke 18:35–43). To explain the passage, I draw on my field research for my book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change.

This sermon was originally delivered at Third Christian Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on March 31, 2019. You can subscribe to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or SoundCloud.


Enjoy this talk? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live Jesus' economy, the currency of love.

Shopping Fair Trade is pretty awesome. Consider that you can buy something you need (or just want) while simultaneously providing fair profit, supporting fair working conditions, and helping boost an impoverished economy. Not to mention, the profit the artisans make helps them provide food, housing, clothing, and education for themselves and their families plus, it enables them to grow their business. 

But sometimes it's hard to find what you're looking for or maybe you aren't looking for anything specific, you're just looking to support a certain country. Whatever your reason for wanting to buy from or support a certain country, we can help you with that. With our special "Shop by Country" feature, you can see the products artisans from specific countries make. 

You can also navigate by country at any point in our Fair Trade Shop by using the bottom left of the Sidebar, where there is a "Country" sort menu. On the mobile experience of JesusEconomy.org, this same menu is either a submenu on the left or located at the top of the page.

You can choose from Guatemala, Haiti, Nepal, Kenya, and more! So what are you waiting for? Create jobs around the world: Shop by country.

Shop by Country

 

God didn’t come in flesh for one part of your life, but for your entire life.

Among Christians in America, there is a regular separation between what happens in church and the rest of life. Work is one thing; church is another. School is one thing; church is another. Our home life is one thing; church is another. The walls of a church building function like a boundary between our Christianity and the outside world. There is a divide between the sacred and secular. But that’s not the way things should be.

God wants to reclaim our entire lives, for this is how he is reclaiming the world. This is profoundly seen in the book of Titus and especially Titus 2:6–10, which offers us instructions on how to advocate for Jesus—in all areas of life.

But First, a Recap of Our Titus Series

Paul opens his letter to Titus by first explaining his personal calling and ministry (Titus 1:1–4). From Titus 1:1–4, we can see what it means to have a Christian identity: our lives will be defined first and foremost by the “hope of eternal life” of Jesus, the savior. But how do we recognize a Christian leader, a person who has been truly transformed by this idea?

Paul tells us in Titus 1:5–9 that Christian leaders have three primary qualifications. Christian leaders are: (1) capable and respected, (2) loving, and (3) experienced at following Jesus. We also see the opposite of this: trend seekers who propagate ideas of legalism (Titus 1:10–16). While these kinds of people are often elevated in our culture, they don’t represent the Christian ideal. “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him” (Titus 1:16). Paul’s instructions are for the purpose of guiding Titus on how to appoint Christian leaders for the churches on Crete, where Paul and Timothy had formally done missionary work together.

In Titus 2, Paul shifts to a series of pragmatic instructions, covering the different demographics represented in the churches: older men (Titus 2:1–2), older women (Titus 2:3–4), and then younger women (Titus 2:4–5). These instructions are highly contextual, geared at the specific situation on Crete (a point illustrated by Paul’s use of a proverb about Cretans in Titus 1:12). What this means is that we should not attempt to verbatim apply these instructions to our modern context. Instead, we should look to the theological principles behind the instructions.

Let's Move Away from Cheap-Grace Christianity

With this recap in mind, let’s examine Titus 2:6–8, where Paul turns to instructions for young men:

"Similarly [to what I’ve told you for these other groups of people], encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us" (Titus 2:6–8 NIV).

Here, we first see an emphasis again on self-control. Paul is big on a Christian life of discipline. He is opposed to legalism (Titus 2:14), but that doesn’t mean that he is about an “I’m okay, you’re okay, everyone do what they want, okay?” sort of faith. Instead, he acknowledges that we have to live our faith in how we act.

The basic premise here is that holiness is important to God and that a person who refuses to have self-control will never garner anyone’s respect. If no one respects you, how will they respect Jesus? With this in mind, I’m tempted to ask: What has happened to Christianity in America then, that we so easily accept a sort of cheap grace, without calling people to authentically live for Jesus?

3 Ways to Be a Model for Jesus

We know Paul is against a cheap grace version of Christianity, where we merely use Jesus as a scapegoat without a response to the grace he has offered. But what is Paul for? How does he tell us to advocate for Jesus? How should we show our Christianity to other people? How do we share our faith? Put simply, be a model, “set … an example” (Titus 2:7).

In Titus 2:7–8, Paul tells us that there are three ways we can be a model for Jesus:

  1. In our good works — what we do for other people. For a definition of this, we can look to 1 Timothy 6:18 that defines good works as being “generous and ready to share.”
  2. In our teaching — speaking about Jesus with what Paul calls “integrity and dignity.” This means also living the message. There should be consistency in what we say and what we do.
  3. With sound speech — this means accurate teaching, to the gospel. For a definition of what “sound teaching” is we can look to 1 Timothy 6:3, where this type of teaching is defined as that which agrees with the “instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

These three methods are how we advocate for Jesus, in all spheres of life.

Be a Model for Jesus, Even When Oppressed

After offering the above instructions, Paul then turns to another segment of patriarchal, Graeco-Roman society, slaves:

"Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive" (Titus 2:9–10 NIV).

When Paul offers these instructions, he is not condoning slavery. Let’s remember that he diplomatically argues for the freedom of a slave in his letter to Philemon. Paul also advocates regularly for all people, “slave and free” (Galatians 3:28). There is also the contextual consideration: that in Graeco-Roman society working off a debt was a credit system. They used the word slavery for this context.

Paul offers these instructions because he wants people to advocate for Christ, no matter their context. He is also saying that one person’s injustice does not justify doing an injustice against them. Slaves, Paul says, even in their painful and difficult context can “make the teaching about God our Savior attractive” (Titus 2:10).

Consider How You Can Be a Model for Jesus

My question to those of us that are free is: If that’s the case, that even those in slavery can glorify God in their actions, what then is holding us back? Our brothers and sisters who have incredible injustices done against them may very well be showing Jesus more than us. In our freedom, are we abusing the freedom Christ has gained for us?

“In everything set … an example by doing what is good. … In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech” (Titus 2:7–8). Bring unity to your beliefs in the church building and outside of it. Advocate for Jesus in all that you do, whatever that may be.

This article is part of our series, "How to Authentically Live as a Christian: Paul's Letter to Titus."


Enjoy this article? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live Jesus' economy, the currency of love.

The miraculous is happening in Bihar, India. Jesus’ Economy church planter Rahul has brought the gospel to thousands of people who have never heard it before. Through his ministry, people have believed in Jesus, been baptized, and have been given the opportunity to attend church services and Bible studies. Through Rahul, the Holy Spirit is working to heal the sick and cast out evil.

Darpita, an eighteen-year-old woman living in Bihar, recently experienced spiritual transformation because of Rahul’s ministry. In September 2018, while she was working out in the fields, something terrible happened to her. She was subsequently oppressed by an evil spirit. Darpita, once talkative and kind, turned into someone who couldn’t talk and started acting in a terrifying way, especially to the children in the village. Every time she was around, they were so afraid that they ran away from her.

Darpita’s parents tried everything they could think of to heal her. They were desperate to bring back the daughter they knew and loved. They took her to countless doctors and even tried a local religious “healer” to rid her of the evil spirits. Nothing worked. Her parents were heartbroken. Darpita was their only child and they didn’t want to lose her.

One of the men from their village told her father about Rahul and his ministry in another village. He advised them to seek out Rahul and ask for healing. Seven months of living in constant fear and worry came to a halt when they brought Darpita to Rahul in March 2019.

During a prayer time in a church service, Darpita’s parents brought her to Rahul and explained the whole situation. Upon hearing their story, Rahul led the church in praying for miraculous healing for Darpita. Jesus answered their prayers and the oppressive spirits left Darpita, right then and there. Miraculously, Darpita was able to talk again and be herself again. The entire church celebrated with the family.

This miraculous act convinced Darpita’s parents that they needed to start going to church and all three of them said they believed in Jesus. In April of 2019, they started regularly attending the very same church where their daughter was healed; since then, their lives have been full of peace. Darpita's story reminds us of what Jesus said:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18–19).

In the villages where Rahul works, people are choosing to believe in Jesus. The captives are being set free. Rahul’s church planting ministry also reminds us of the power of prayer. Keep praying and believing with us for Rahul, his ministry, and the church planting efforts to Renew Bihar, India.

Because of your donations, there are now believers in Northeast India who might have otherwise gone their entire lives without even hearing the name of Jesus. Thank you for your support of church planting in Bihar, India.

Global inequality is the root cause of much of the world's problems. If you can't feed or educate your children, you will become desperate. Desperate people do desperate things. Desperation even breeds terrorism. But we can do something about it. We have the power.

Impoverished communities are especially vulnerable to corruption and exploitation. If we could fix these ethical problems and create fair-wage jobs, we could cut off the problem at its source. We could change the world. The key to all this: technology, organization, and simple choices. We need action and we need the right plan. In this talk, I explain how we can leverage our interconnected world to fix global inequality.

I believe in these ideas so much that my wife and I gave up our former lifestyle to make it happen: selling our house, our possessions, and quitting a great job. In this talk, I explain what motivated me to make these drastic decisions; and the part I believe we all can play in transforming our world.

This talk was delivered for a special event at the Greater Ithaca Activities Center in Ithaca, NY on April 21, 2017. The talk was sponsored by Bethel Grove Bible Church.

Subscribe now to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or SoundCloud.

Join Us in Fixing Global Inequality

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Today is World Fair Trade Day, when people around the world come together to support products that lift people out of poverty. In honor of World Fair Trade Day, here are four ways that fair trade is a Christian value. But before we jump in, you may be wondering, what makes a product "fair trade"?

Defining Fair Trade

The term “Fair Trade” describes an economic exchange in which laborers receive a fair living wage. The basic goal of fair trade is to create a more just and equitable world, where people are paid wages that adequately provide for their needs and are commensurate with their labor.

Fair trade matters for the sake of our world. And it matters for Christianity—here are the four primary reasons why all Christians should support fair trade.

1. We Are Opposed to Exploited Labor

The majority of what we purchase in the U.S. is based on unjust economic exchanges. The exploitation of labor in developing nations reduces the costs we pay here in the U.S. And as such, a large portion of clothing manufactures, and producers of other items, aim to pay people the smallest amount possible. This is a practice that we as Christians should oppose—not just with our words, but also with our wallets.

While it is not possible yet to buy everything you need from a fair trade manufacturer, there are many fair trade options. One day, God willing, we will be able to buy everything we need at fair trade wages and fair trade will be the norm.

2. The Bible Advocates for Justice and Equality

Fair trade represents justice and equality. And justice and equality are key tenants of Christianity. On this point, the prophets especially come to mind. Over and over again the prophets call us to live the principles of justice, mercy, and humility (e.g., Micah 6:6–8). Near the beginning of the book of Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah records God saying:

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:16–17 ESV).

We should plead the widow’s cause by buying products that empower women. We should learn to do good by understanding the implications of our purchases. We should live the principles of justice. If we desire justice, then we should make justice a priority when it comes to our purchases. If we believe in equality, then we should back that with our entire lifestyles.

3. Fair Trade Creates Jobs for the Impoverished

Work is central to who we are. It was a major part of the lives of the apostles and something they advocated for (e.g., Acts 18:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:10). But work is not an option for some—they lack the opportunity. And where work is available, it is not a fair exchange. We can change that through creating fair trade jobs.

If done right, fair trade is one way to change lives through business. Fair trade products are purchased at a price that allows for people to overcome poverty. Fair trade creates safe, sustainable, and profitable jobs. It also provides high quality products for people around the world to use and enjoy. 

4. We Can Create a Jesus Economy

If Jesus was to create an economy, it would be based on love and self-sacrifice. But fair trade isn’t even asking for self-sacrifice; it’s asking that we simply respect people—that we show them the dignity of being paid what their work is worth.

Fair trade represents life transformation for impoverished artisans. It represents a chance for their dreams to become real. It means their families having sustainable incomes and real money coming into their economies.

Jesus envisioned a world where we truly loved our neighbors (Mark 12:31). Fair trade is a way for us to show his love. It’s a way to live what we believe.*

For more on fair trade, see the Jesus’ Economy Fair Trade Standards. Also, check out the Jesus’ Economy online Fair Trade Shop, where you can alleviate poverty simply by shopping. 

Shop Fair Trade

 

*This article is adapted from my earlier article, "Why Fair Trade Matters to Christianity." The artisan featured above, Benson, is a living example of why fair trade matters: Read Benson's fair trade story.

Meet Unis Ansari, a tailor from Nepal whose strength and creativity amazes us! Originally from the south of Nepal, he moved to Kathmandu in search of better opportunities for his family. Unis has now been working for more than 28 years as a Master Tailor with Cheppu of Himalaya, a partner of Jesus’ Economy. He helps design patterns for the breathtaking shawls, ponchos, and scarves they make, and he oversees tailoring at the Cheppu workshop.

The Artisan Creations of Unis

Fair Trade Has Changed Unis' Life

Because of his work with Cheppu, Unis has been able to provide for his family and sponsor his children’s education. Cheppu provides scholarships for students in need from elementary to university level, and they are currently supporting 34 Nepalese students through these scholarships. Additionally, Cheppu helps build relationships between the students and private sponsors who can offer further financial support.

Cheppu values preserving tradition and celebrating the richness of diversity. They work to exchange culture through the reflection of ancient traditions--using traditional patterns, materials, techniques, and colors--in their products. They also believe in fighting for sustainability and use recycled or renewable materials whenever possible.

As part of their team, Unis brings practiced expertise and several years of knowledge. He strengthens Cheppu from Himalaya through his beautiful and dedicated craftsmanship. Take a look at some of his other beautiful creations in the Fair Trade Shop.

Shop Products by Unis

 

Shakespeare said, "All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players." There are many players in the biblical story. In this grand play across time, with God as the great author of history, we are invited to see ourselves in the characters. There is one act in this grand play that stands above the rest: the great moment of the resurrection. But in this story, there are characters who have been neglected, forgotten, overlooked. Yet, they are the greatest source of inspiration. They are the women who stood by Jesus.

In this sermon, I examine Mark 16, suggesting that we should all emulate the women who stood by Jesus. We should be witnesses in God's grand story like the women were.

This sermon was originally delivered at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on April 21, 2019 (Easter Sunday).

Subscribe now to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

We’re given a story in our culture: We’re told what it means to live, what we should value. And then there’s the biblical story, which is in in sharp contrast to the story of culture. This makes authentic Christianity difficult to come by. Every Christian faces the challenge of discerning how to authentically live for Jesus. What is it that makes an authentic Christian? And how can we live as authentic Christians? How can our lives tell a different story, a better story? For the answers to these questions, we can look to Titus 2:1–5, which records some instructions Paul the apostle gave his young apprentice, Titus.

The Backstory of Titus on Crete

Paul had left his young apprentice Titus on Crete, to appoint leaders for the fledgling church(es) there and to inspire them to live authentically for Jesus. Crete is the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean, located southwest of modern Turkey. Paul wrote this letter at some point in the mid-60s AD, between his first and second Roman imprisonments.

In Titus 1:5–9, Paul has explained to Titus how to identify authentic Christian leaders, noting that they must be:

  1. Capable and respected;
  2. Loving, in all sphere of life (at home and publicly); and
  3. Experienced at living as a follower of Jesus (a true disciple of Jesus).
From here, Paul told Titus how to discern the difference between a truly Christian leader and a trend seeker, by explaining what inauthenticity looks like (Titus 1:10–16).

    In Titus 2:1–15, Paul now tells Titus how to minister to specific people groups on Crete, explaining what each of them will need to hear. From these very specific instructions, rooted in the cultural issues on Crete, we can derive some principles for how to authentically live as Christians and then apply these principles to our present circumstances, to our lives.

    How to Find Sound Doctrine

    In Titus 2:1–5 (NIV), Paul says to Titus: 

    You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.

    Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

    Paul first reminds Titus of the value of sound doctrine, which can be defined as that which is consistent with the gospel message—of Jesus’ saving act on the cross and his resurrection—and with the teachings of the apostles (Titus 2:1; compare 1 Timothy 1:10). Paul gives to Titus here a principle that is applicable to all situations: If you want to know how to live, look to the Bible as your guide.

    From here, Paul turns to what he believed older men on Crete needed to hear (Titus 2:2). In the first-century AD, “older men” would have referred to those over age 50. From this advice about "older men," we can learn how to live sound doctrine.

    4 Disciplines for Christians to Live By

    From Paul's instructions about teaching "older men," we see four practices or disciplines emerge:

    1. Temperance, that is the ability to be restrained or not give into extremes. (This seems to imply even consumption habits, such as alcohol [compare Titus 2:3].)
    2. Respectable, or worthy of respect.
    3. Self-controlled. This aligns with Paul’s instruction that younger women live pure lives (Titus 2:4).
    4. Sound in faith, knowing and practicing the values of Jesus. This is shown in how we love and what we endure.

    The recommendation of Paul for older women is similar to that for older men (Titus 2:3). Likewise, Paul reflects the value of garnering respect in the teachings he offers for younger women (Titus 2:4–5), which in his context would have been women between the ages of 20 and 30, but this also seems to be a general reference to women younger than the older women group (over age 50). In Paul’s first-century context, the values he gives for young women would have all been cultural norms; Paul’s concern seems to be that violating a cultural norm so central to Graeco-Roman culture would have brought unwanted scrutiny to the fledgling church.

    What the 4 Disciplines for Christian Life Teach

    What these four values or disciplines show us is that at its core, Christianity is not just about belief, about a commitment to a set of religious standards; it is also about practice. It’s about what we do with our time, resources, and energy. Christianity is not just about what’s coming, going to heaven, but about the now—what we will do with the fact that heaven has come to earth in the personhood of Jesus, the one who suffered, died, and rose on our behalf. What will we do with sound doctrine? That’s the question of Paul for us.

    What Will You Do with Sound Doctrine?

    Jesus came to reclaim our entire lives. About this, Paul elsewhere says: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1–2 NIV).

    This reminds me of a line from the band All Sons and Daughters song “Dawn to Dusk”:

    Tomorrow’s freedom is today’s surrender

    We come before you [and] lay our burdens down

    We look to you as our hearts remember

    You are the only God

    You are our only God.

    So let us surrender, lay our burdens down, and embrace the open arms of the God of the universe. Let us authentically live our beliefs.

    This article is part of our series, "How to Authentically Live as a Christian: Paul's Letter to Titus."


    Enjoy this article? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live Jesus' economy, the currency of love.

    The 2019 National Day of Prayer in the United States is today, May 2, and its theme is "Love one another," taking a queue from Jesus' instruction to his disciples, "Love one another, just as I have loved you" (John 13:34). There is no more fitting way to love than being a blessing to the people of our world. When we pray for God's blessing, let us pray because we want to bless.

    These prayers make me ask again: What if the American dream could be leveraged to change our entire world? What if the frontier spirit of America had enough tenacity to transform lives around our planet? Americans are blessed so that they may be a blessing. Prayer coupled with action is the way for that to happen.

    Blessed to Be a Blessing: A National Day of Prayer Message

    On National Day of Prayer several years ago, I delivered a message in Casper, Wyoming about how America is blessed to be a blessing. I discuss the frontier spirit present in people like Henry David Thoreau, the power of prayer, the biblical view of blessing, and how our interconnected world presents us with a unique opportunity to lift people everywhere out of poverty.

     

    Is the American Dream Still Alive?

    In this keynote address, I discuss how I grew up in the shadow of the American dream in the oil boom in Alaska, raised by parents who are the epitome of the dream itself. I explain what growing up in the frontier spirit taught me about the power of being able to choose your future. I then relate this to how our entire world deserves this choice by telling a story from Bihar, India along the way. I explain how the American dream may not be fully alive today, but that it can be again, and show how that would change our entire world for the better.

    American Jobs and Empowering People Overseas

    Since part of Jesus' Economy's vision is to create jobs in the developing world, I often get asked, "What about American jobs?" It's a valid question and one I answered in my talk for National Day of Prayer.

    I believe that Americans will have even more opportunity as fair trade jobs are created in the developing world. It will give Americans the opportunity to leverage our knowledge of markets, organization structures, and technical information to create work here. You cannot have fashion without fashion designers. You cannot deliver products in the U.S. without shipping facilities here. You cannot create a leading fair trade shop without employing technical people. What if the U.S. and other western countries could be the means to making fair trade work happen? And what if this industry, based completely on empowerment and freedom, was bigger than companies like Amazon and Facebook?

    Peace and Creating Fair Trade Jobs Go Hand in Hand

    Peace is a beautiful thing. In my talk I also explain that by creating fair trade jobs, we create friends and allies. We eliminate the possibility of exploitation and isolation. When we create fair trade jobs, we create a way for the U.S. to have peaceful relationships with other nations.

    I believe there can be win-win-win situations in business, if business is based on Christian ethics. I believe that fair trade commerce creates such an opportunity. What if we could leverage the ideas that built America to make this happen? What if we were to spread the idea of economic and spiritual freedom around the world? Such an effort would create incredible and unwavering hope.*

    We are blessed to be a blessing. On this National Day of Prayer, let's pray for that. Think of that as you use this guide for prayer from the National Day of Prayer Task Force.

    Also, for regular inspiration, subscribe to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

    *This article is adapted from my earlier article, "Leveraging the American Dream to Change the World."

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