From the beginning of the early church, there is a concern for the impoverished and for effective alleviation of poverty. Right off the bat, early Christians are pooling their resources for the sake of the marginalized and impoverished. Early Christians sold their stuff so that they could share resources with the hurting (Acts 2:44–45). Self-sacrifice is a core part of the gospel. That's the core story behind my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. Here are three principles that emerge in the Jesus' Economy book.

1. Jesus’ Economy is Based on Self-Sacrifice

We have to be willing to sacrifice our own comforts for the sake of the impoverished. I can’t look at the situation in Bihar, India—where millions of people are living in extreme poverty—and deny them clean water or economic opportunities. As a Christian, I should experience a conversion in those moments of witnessing poverty. I should be inspired to give of my time and resources to empower the poor. I should be willing to go so far as to sell my house and my belongings. That’s at least what Jesus told one man (Matthew 19:16–22).

That’s precisely what my wife and I did—we put all of our resources into empowering the impoverished and bringing the gospel to the unreached. We sold our house and our stuff, for the sake of the mission. I’m not saying this to boast, because I can tell you that there is no glory in it. I’m saying this to note that I’m not asking you to do something I haven’t done myself. I’m also not saying everyone’s journey will be so radically life altering, but I do ask, “Are you giving enough that it hurts?” That’s the model of the early church.

Jesus has a different economy in mind than the one on offer in our world. He believes in empowering the impoverished. Jesus’ economy is based on self-sacrifice. Jesus’ currency is love.

2. Jesus’ Economy Means Giving Joyously and Intelligently

When the earliest Christians gave, it wasn’t about guilt (2 Corinthians 9:6–7). And likewise, their love wasn’t an empty love—one where I give of my resources without thought of relationship. I believe in intelligent love and I believe in love that calls people to a higher standard. I believe in this because the early church did. I also believe in love that respects the value of hard work (compare 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7–8). There is a time for charity, such as meeting a basic need like clean water, but people also need economic opportunities. They need jobs. 

The early church built intelligence in their giving. We see this in the appointment of deacons—following an issue over distribution of charity to widows, one of the most impoverished groups of the day (Acts 6:1–7). Jesus would have us give in ways that multiply and to think about how we’re giving and to whom we’re giving.

This is why I believe in job creation efforts being a core part of the work of the church. We can meet a person’s need today or we can give them the ability to meet their own need tomorrow. But no matter what we do, showing Jesus’ love in word and deed should be our mission. We should live on mission and empower missions, so that all can know Jesus.

3. Jesus’ Economy Means Living on Mission and Empowering Others

The early church sent missionaries out, but their goal was to train and empower local leadership. Much of 1 Timothy and Titus is about this—the appointment of local elders and deacons. We also see Paul in 1–2 Thessalonians and 1–2 Corinthians working to instruct local leaders on how to lead their own church. Paul’s model was always about raising up indigenous leaders. 

Today, we can do the same. We need to empower local leadership around the world. What we need is to sponsor indigenous church planting movements and to empower them with quality, Bible-focused training. And we need to empower them with strong project management, resources for community development, and let them sit at the center of an effort to renew a community.

Churches around the world should partner together, for the sake of both bringing the gospel to unreached people groups and to meet basic needs. And where there are needs to be met, we should meet them. Near the end of Paul’s letter to the Roman church, he requests that they join him and other churches in bringing together an aid package for the impoverished in Jerusalem (Romans 15:26–29).

As Christians, we need to have a holistic approach to life transformation. We need to be about creating jobs, planting churches, and meeting basic needs—one community at a time.

Imagine what could be if the church functioned this way—if we looked at the biblical model of self-sacrifice and lived with the principles of the early church in mind. Imagine how different our world be. Imagine what would happen if we had a truly Jesus economy in mind at all times.*


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 the currency of love.

 

*While writing my book Jesus' Economy, I published the above article as, "Jesus' Has an Entirely Different Economy in Mind."

In life, events can take a turn and suddenly we're on an unexpected path. We can't see a way forward or backward. Life can feel like an unexpected journey without a map. As Paul the apostle experiences the unexpected in Acts 28, he shows us what it means to really see and hear God.

In this sermon, I examine Acts 28 (the closing chapter of the book of Acts) to illustrate how God works in the unexpected. This sermon was originally delivered at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on October 14, 2018

Get more talks like this one by subscribing to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunesSpotify, or SoundCloud.


Enjoy this sermon? 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 the currency of love.

Prayer has the potential to completely change our lives. Yet we often treat it as if its a side note. In this sermon, I examine Saint Paul's view of prayer focusing on Acts 16. While exploring how prayer changed Paul's life -- and the lives of others in the first-century -- I share how I have seen the miraculous happen through prayer.

This sermon was delivered at The Table, a missional church plant in Bellingham, Washington on May 22, 2016.

 

Subscribe to our free sermon audio via the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunes or SoundCloud.

From the beginning of the early church, there is a concern for the impoverished and for effective alleviation of poverty. Right off the bat, early Christians are pooling their resources for the sake of the marginalized and impoverished. Early Christians sold their stuff so that they could share resources with the hurting (Acts 2:44–45). Self-sacrifice is a core part of the gospel.

Jesus’ Economy is Based on Self-Sacrifice

We have to be willing to sacrifice our own comforts for the sake of the impoverished. I can’t look at the situation in Bihar, India—where millions of people are living in extreme poverty—and deny them clean water or economic opportunities. As a Christian, I should experience a conversion in those moments of witnessing poverty. I should be inspired to give of my time and resources to empower the poor. I should be willing to go so far as to sell my house and my belongings. That’s at least what Jesus told one man (Matthew 19:16–22).

That’s precisely what my wife and I did—we put all of our resources into empowering the impoverished and bringing the gospel to the unreached. We sold our house and our stuff, for the sake of the mission. I’m not saying this to boast, because I can tell you that there is no glory in it. I’m saying this to note that I’m not asking you to do something I haven’t done myself. I’m also not saying everyone’s journey will be so radically life altering, but I do ask, “Are you giving enough that it hurts?” That’s the model of the early church.

Jesus has a different economy in mind than the one on offer in our world. He believes in empowering the impoverished. Jesus’ economy is based on self-sacrifice. Jesus’ currency is love.

Jesus’ Economy Means Giving Joyously and Intelligently

When the earliest Christians gave, it wasn’t about guilt (2 Corinthians 9:6–7). And likewise, their love wasn’t an empty love—one where I give of my resources without thought of relationship. I believe in intelligent love and I believe in love that calls people to a higher standard. I believe in this because the early church did. I also believe in love that respects the value of hard work (compare 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7–8). There is a time for charity, such as meeting a basic need like clean water, but people also need economic opportunities. They need jobs. 

The early church built intelligence in their giving. We see this in the appointment of deacons—following an issue over distribution of charity to widows, one of the most impoverished groups of the day (Acts 6:1–7). Jesus would have us give in ways that multiply and to think about how we’re giving and to whom we’re giving.

This is why I believe in job creation efforts being a core part of the work of the church. We can meet a person’s need today or we can give them the ability to meet their own need tomorrow. But no matter what we do, showing Jesus’ love in word and deed should be our mission. We should live on mission and empower missions, so that all can know Jesus.

Jesus’ Economy Means Living on Mission and Empowering Others

The early church sent missionaries out, but their goal was to train and empower local leadership. Much of 1 Timothy and Titus is about this—the appointment of local elders and deacons. We also see Paul in 1–2 Thessalonians and 1–2 Corinthians working to instruct local leaders on how to lead their own church. Paul’s model was always about raising up indigenous leaders. 

Today, we can do the same. We need to empower local leadership around the world. What we need is to sponsor indigenous church planting movements and to empower them with quality, Bible-focused training. And we need to empower them with strong project management, resources for community development, and let them sit at the center of an effort to renew a community.

Churches around the world should partner together, for the sake of both bringing the gospel to unreached people groups and to meet basic needs. And where there are needs to be met, we should meet them. Near the end of Paul’s letter to the Roman church, he requests that they join him and other churches in bringing together an aid package for the impoverished in Jerusalem (Romans 15:26–29).

As Christians, we need to have a holistic approach to life transformation. We need to be about creating jobs, planting churches, and meeting basic needs—one community at a time.

Imagine what could be if the church functioned this way—if we looked at the biblical model of self-sacrifice and lived with the principles of the early church in mind. Imagine how different our world be. Imagine what would happen if we had a truly Jesus economy in mind at all times.

 

Get more free articles like this one and other updates: Subscribe now. This long-form article is part of our weekly series, “Living for Jesus.”

It’s the mid-50s AD. A man named Paul has been traveling the world, spreading the good news about Jesus of Nazareth. Paul believes this Jesus is God incarnate and the savior of the world. This all started when Paul encountered the risen Jesus, who had been crucified in Jerusalem. Before that, he had persecuted Christians.

Paul is now on a mission. He is near the end of his third missionary journey. He desires to see the Christians in Rome. In a letter, Paul tells the Roman church that he plans to launch from Rome a mission to Spain (Romans 15:22).

On the other side of the known world is Thomas. At first, Thomas had doubted Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:25–28). Now, Thomas has been sent out by the church in Jerusalem to bring the gospel to India. (This is according to early Syrian church tradition.)

Paul and Thomas are attempting to bring the gospel to opposite ends of the known world—the furthest western point in their geography, Spain, and the furthest eastern point, India.

Paul and Thomas are following Jesus’ commandment: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NIV). From the very inception of the church, they saw themselves as missionaries bringing the gospel to the ends of the earth. The former persecutor and former doubter dedicated themselves to this. And we should do the same.

But the work is far from complete. There are over 3,000 people groups without missionaries. It’s estimated that 99.7% of the church’s resources—it’s missional activities and financial support—is dedicated to areas where the church is already present. Only 0.3% of resources are dedicated to where the church is not present. Let that number sink in.

Like Thomas, I went to India because I had heard of a place where 101 Million people had not heard Jesus’ name. The state is called Bihar. There in Bihar, I shadowed an indigenous, pioneering church leader named Biju Thomas.

In Bihar, I met hundreds of people who had heard the name of Jesus for the first time through the efforts of Biju and his team. And I personally witnessed hundreds of people hearing the name of Jesus for the first time ever in their lives. I saw the freedom of Jesus reign in their lives and renew their hearts. I saw their eyes light up as they realized that their lives had value far beyond what the local religious systems had rigidly defined.

In Bihar, the book of Acts is happening today. There are thousands of people coming to Christ; there are miracles happening everyday; and the needs of the impoverished are being met.

I remember meeting a young woman, perhaps 16 years old, whose face was filled with sadness and anger. She was from a remote village and had until recently been living with father who an abusive alcoholic. At first, she had tried to stay in school—and endure her father’s neglect and abuse—but she would regularly walk three miles to school, just for the teacher not to show. Thus, she moved to Patna, where her mother was and found work and education. But the sadness about her upbringing, future, and her father endured. And her religion demanded chants (mantras) to change this. But she could not chant where she was living.

During a youth event, she heard the gospel told plainly for the first time. And she realized, deep in her heart, that Jesus is what she needed—not mantras. Jesus whispered quietly to her that she had value. I will never forget her face as she walked up the aisle of the classroom to ask for prayer. Her smile brimmed from ear to ear. She had been so angry and embittered looking but now joy swept across her face. Jesus had turned darkness into beauty.

I want to see this type of joy reach every last person on the planet. I want to see the renewal this young lady experienced be offered to every person of Bihar.

As I left Bihar, I thought, “If the book of Acts is happening today in Bihar, perhaps a model could emerge from the book. What if the answers to our problems are right there in the Bible?”

 

Get more free articles like this one and other updates: Subscribe now. This long-form article is part of our weekly series, “Living for Jesus.”

Our world is full of problems. It feels overwhelming. But the solution starts right here, with each of us. Here are some practical and biblical steps you can take today to transform a life.

Speak Words of Love and Peace

Much of the rhetoric of today has become filled with anger and hate. The Bible calls us to be peacemakers. Jesus once said: 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9 NIV). 

If we truly think of ourselves as children of God, those saved by the grace of Jesus, then we should be peacemakers. Rather than lashing out at others with hateful rhetoric and disdain, we should consider how we can show other people the very love of Christ. 

That can be difficult when we feel ostracized for our faith, but that’s the time when such actions are most needed. Just after Jesus’ line about peacemakers, he says:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:10–12 NIV).

If we experience persecution and difficulties truly for the sake of the gospel then Jesus considers us blessed. We have become like the prophets of old. Our response to pain, difficulties, and persecution should always be love.

Jesus even went so far as to tell us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43–48). We are to love and leave justice in Jesus’ hands. Jesus summarizes this nicely when he says to Peter: 

“Put your sword back in its place … for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52 NIV).

Peace is a masterful plan. It gives us the ability to completely trust God with our future. When we respond out of love, we silence hate.

Really Live the Bible’s Message

Far too many people claim belief in the Bible but don’t really live its message. The Bible’s calling is clear: We are to self-sacrificially love others. It is not enough to claim belief in Jesus without taking action. The book of James puts it this way:

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” (James 2:14 NIV).

Jesus explained this idea when he differentiated between authentic and inauthentic believers by their actions on behalf of the stranger, sick, and imprisoned (Matthew 5:31–46). For Jesus, anyone who claimed to have experienced his saving grace but did not act on behalf of the outsider, marginalized, and helpless simply did not know him.

Take action today to empower others—really live the Bible’s message. Make a self-sacrificial choice for the sake of the gospel.

Be Part of the Solution

In my experience, there are many Christians who like to talk about ideas but when it comes to action, there is silence.

Jesus did not tell us to simply speak about the gospel; he told us to take action on behalf of the gospel. In the book of Acts, Jesus frames the message this way:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NIV).

Jesus’ message necessitates action. The remainder of the book of Acts illustrates this point. Starting from Jerusalem and moving out to the rest of the world, the early church begins to spread the word about Jesus’ saving act. 

When you truly experience Jesus, you can’t help but take action. For far too long, we have talked about the need to bring the gospel to unreached people groups yet there are still 3,000 people groups without a single missionary. In Bihar, India alone—where the organization I lead is working—there are 101 Million people who have never heard the name of Jesus.

We need solutions to these problems. And that starts with each of us taking action. We need to be willing to give of our time and resources for the sake of Jesus’ mission. We should be willing to do so, to the point it hurts.

At one point a man said to Jesus said, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 NIV). What are you looking back at? What do you need to let go of? How can you take action for the sake of reaching the unreached today?

 

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I remember the feeling of kissing my wife goodbye as I boarded my flight for an extended stay in a remote area of Northeast India. There was a sense of despair, wonder, and well, fear. I planned to shadow a pioneering and indigenous church planter in the farthest corner of the world from where I lived. It’s a 12.5 time zone difference. I was going to the ends of the earth.

This phrase “the ends of the earth” has been used since ancient times. It refers to going somewhere completely other, completely different, than where we are from. Jesus uses it in the book of Acts. Here’s how the story goes.

“Then [Jesus’ disciples] gathered around him and asked him, ‘Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’” (Acts 1:6–8 NIV). 

There is a movement here outward from Jerusalem to their wider province, to their neighboring (foreign) province—and then all the way to the ends of the earth. This is the mission of the church, as spelled out by Jesus.

Yet, there are over 3,000 people groups without missionaries. It’s estimated that 99.7% of the church’s resources—it’s missional activities and financial support—is dedicated to areas where the church is already present. Only 0.3% of resources are dedicated to where the church is not present. I simply cannot live in a world with statistics like this and call myself Christian, unless I do something about it.

When I went to the ends of the earth, I did so because of a desire to learn, to see, to feel—to understand what God was doing in the far corners of the world. I had heard that it was like the book of Acts. There were hundreds, maybe even thousands, coming to Christ. The ignored, the unreached, the outcast, the lowest of the caste system in India—these people were leaving their oppressive religious systems for the freedom of Jesus. And the Holy Spirit was moving.

I was also there because I’m the CEO and Founder of an innovative non-profit creating jobs and churches in the developing world. It’s called Jesus’ Economy, because that’s what God has called us to do—to create an economy that represents Jesus himself. We’re each day asking Jesus to use us to create a new spiritual and physical economy for those that need it most. We’re combining economic development—through microfinance, business training, and an online fair trade shop—with indigenous church planting efforts, while meeting basic needs. Our one goal: renew communities with the whole gospel, with the gospel that answers both the hunger of the stomach, the needs of a community, and preaches eternal salvation through Jesus.

In Bihar, India where Jesus’ Economy is working to bring the gospel to the unreached, there are 101 Million people who have never heard Jesus’ name. This is why I’ve dedicated my life to this effort—with my wife and I selling our house, nearly everything we own, leaving a great job, and committing ourselves to this cause.

When I was in India, I saw that the gospel was going forth but it needed assistance. It needs funding, yes. But it also needed innovative solutions, such as microfinance and connecting businesses to international markets through an online store. I also witnessed that deeper and more intensive discipleship was needed—that we needed to design programs and training specifically for areas where the gospel has not been preached before.

In much of India, the caste system controls entire way of life. For generations upon generations, people are told they are only allowed to have one occupation, live in one place (or at least place of society), and be one thing. If you’re born a leather worker, that’s what you are. If you’re born a share cropper, that’s what you are. If you’re born a mason, that’s what you are. If you’re born as an “untouchable” (a dalit), the lowest of the castes, that’s what you are. You’re nothing.

I saw how the gospel changed these peoples lives. How it gave them hope where there was none. And I couldn’t help but commit my life to helping. The Holy Spirit was moving and I was lucky to be part of it. 

The work Christ gave us to do is far from done. But the Holy Spirit is on the move.

Jesus desired to instill a deep belief in the power of the gospel in us—a renewing hope. We’re meant for more than mere activities. We’re meant for pioneering activities that bring his gospel to the unreached. If only we would listen and act. Here’s what happens after Jesus gives his command to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth:

“After [Jesus] said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9–11 NIV).

And this is my plea to you today. Why do we stand here waiting? We should be moving forward with an urgency for the gospel.

 

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