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.
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.
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.
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).
World Book Day celebrates all aspects of a book—reading, publishing, authors, illustrators, even the copyright. Most importantly, the day is marked to encourage people around the globe to read and to enjoy what they read.
When the founder of Jesus' Economy, John D. Barry, set out to write a book on how to empower the impoverished, he decided to consult a global cast of Christian leaders prior to publication. Since that moment, more than 30 Christian leaders around the world have read and endorsed his book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change.
What better way to celebrate World Book Day than by sharing what these Christian leaders had to say about the book?
“John Barry has written an inspiring and readable account about Jesus, poverty, and the mission of the church. This book tells you what poverty is, where it is, what Jesus said about it, and how you can follow Jesus’ commands to end it. A great introduction to the socioeconomics of poverty, as well as Christian teaching on the subject. Great resource for pastors, students, and church groups!”
—REV. DR. MICHAEL F. BIRD
Author, Evangelical Theology and What Christians Ought to Believe
Academic Dean and Lecturer in Theology, Ridley College, Melbourne, Australia
Author, Euangelion blog, Patheos.com
“In Palestinian culture, we are accustomed to saying, ‘If poverty were a man, I would have killed him.’ This book shows us how Jesus wants to alleviate poverty through the sacrificial love of His followers. Such love is only possible through a vital relationship with Jesus and also with the poor. John D. Barry prophetically reminds us that we cannot be true followers of Jesus and ignore the poor. We cannot separate physical and spiritual poverty. In Jesus’ Economy, we find disturbing contemporary data, heart-stirring stories, and inspiring challenges, as well as opportunities for ministry. The book informs us, inspires us, and gives us the opportunity to be involved in addressing poverty in biblical ways. I recommend this book to every Christian who desires to know how Jesus wants us to help the poor.”
—REV. DR. YOHANNA KATANACHO
Academic Dean, Nazareth Evangelical College, Nazareth, Israel
Reconciliation leader in Israel and author, The Land of Christ: A Palestinian Cry
Old Testament Editor, Arabic Contemporary Commentary and Asia Bible Commentary
“Considering the passion and action that John Barry and his wife, Kalene, have put into this project, I trust they must be prompted by God to do so. Barry shares deep insights into wealth and poverty from Jesus’ perspective. Jesus’ Economy is well worth reading, pondering, and putting into action, especially in this day and age.”
—DR. JULIE LEE WU
President and Dean, China Bible Seminary, Hong Kong
Recipient of Women in Leadership Award from the Association of Theological Schools
“Inspiring and eye-opening, John D. Barry’s Jesus’ Economy is a rallying cry for all believers to meditate on and rethink the Great Commission in practical, humanitarian terms. John and Kalene, as fellow humanitarians and followers of Jesus, are committed, as we are, to the cause of seeing poverty erased in our world through the only successful means possible—the way of Jesus Christ and His gospel.”
Author of the best-selling, Once an Arafat Man and The Mind of Terror
and KAREN SAADA
Founders, Hope for Ishmael, a reconciliation ministry between Arabs and Jews
Founders, Seeds of Hope, a humanitarian organization serving the people of Jerusalem, Jericho, and Gaza
“John Barry’s Jesus’ Economy is not just a must-read, but it is also a book that the global church needs to embrace and use to teach Jesus’ life-changing and transformational principles. Barry is a terrific writer and an unusual type of Christian leader: he can correctly be described as a selfless, shepherd, servant type of leader. Barry’s ministry, the nonprofit Jesus’ Economy, makes a case for this book. Jesus’ Economy is a narrative of how to conquer the twin enemies of the human race: corruption and poverty. Barry gives the church not just theories and empirical data on poverty, but also concrete and practical examples of Jesus and His disciples’ models of poverty alleviation. Our churches in Africa can comfortably use this book in Sunday school or theological seminaries. I strongly recommend it to members of the global church who want to engage in the mission of God!”
—DR. SUNDAY BOBAI AGANG
Professor of Christian Ethics, Theology, and Public Policy, ECWA Theological Seminary, Kagoro, Nigeria
“Oriented in the global landscape of poverty and impoverishment, John D. Barry’s Jesus’ Economy is biblically anchored and remarkably personal. His self-engaged 'I-voice' and narrative approach will appeal to audiences of all ages—'to all who hope to make the world a better place.' Captivating both in theme and writing style, Jesus’ Economy is a delightful read—informative and thought-provoking yet practical, providing pointers and directives for alleviating poverty both overseas and right where you live.”
—DR. BARBARA M. LEUNG LAI
Research Professor of Old Testament, Tyndale University College & Seminary, Toronto, ON, Canada
International trainer of missionaries
Author, Glimpsing the Mystery: The Book of Daniel
“Jesus’ Economy is a wonderful biblical and practical study—and it comes from the heart and mind of an expert in the field. John Barry sheds light on one of the most important issues of our day: that the church recognize its mission, not only inside its walls, but also outside them—looking after the impoverished, those whom Jesus cared about the most. The only hope for overcoming poverty in the world today is in Jesus and His church. Please don’t read this book if you are not ready to change your heart, mind, and attitude!”
—REV. DR. THARWAT WAHBA
Chairman, Missions Department, Evangelical Theological Seminary, Cairo, Egypt
Chairman of Council, Pastoral and Outreach Ministries for the Evangelical (Presbyterian) Church of Egypt
Author, The Practice of Mission in Egypt
“Jesus’ Economy is an invitation to a journey of faith in Christ’s transformative love. It equips you to uplift and to dignify the poor and, in so doing, glorifies Jesus Christ, who became poor that the world may experience the riches of that transformative love. The book also challenges humanity, particularly the church, to live a life of fruitfulness and worthy sacrifice.”
—DR. DAVID K. NGARUIYA
Director of PhD in Theological Studies Program, Nairobi International School of Theology
Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies, International Leadership University, Nairobi, Kenya
Coeditor, Communities of Faith in Africa and the African Diaspora
“What can we do to bring about restoration and transformation in our society, which is in many ways characterized by injustice, unfairness, and brokenness? First, we need a new outlook and a new approach. Jesus’ Economy will not only change your perspective of the world but also motivate you to change your response toward those who are suffering and impoverished. John Barry discusses the stark reality of society’s brokenness, including the unjust distribution of resources in the world. But he also provides a framework for creating a better world as we join hands with Christ, who died to transform society holistically. Jesus' Economy is a great resource for any context.”
—DR. A. N. LAL SENANAYAKE
President, Lanka Bible College and Seminary, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
Coeditor, Educating for Tomorrow: Theological Leadership for the Asian Context
“Jesus’ Economy is a clear demonstration of the good news in action! John Barry shows us how God’s powerful grace and cross-shaped love are being manifested in our world of dire need. With moving stories, engaging information, and relevant teaching about empowering the impoverished and sharing the gospel, we are given a front-row seat to many such godly interventions. Barry, who is eminently competent to lead us on an incredible journey, shows us how we, too, can partner in nothing less than ‘Jesus’ economy.’”
—DR. JACOB CHERIAN
Vice President and Dean of Faculty, Southern Asia Bible College, Kothanur, Bangalore, India
“In Jesus’ Economy, with the passion that characterizes him, John Barry challenges us to revisit our commitment to the needy, from two fronts. First, through a compelling case, he invites us to study and follow Jesus’ dedication to the poor. Second, due to his broad experience in the field, he gives invaluable advice to those who are involved in—or looking to be involved in—ministries to the impoverished around the world.”
—DR. NELSON MORALES
Professor of New Testament Studies, Seminario Teológico Centroamericano, Guatemala
“Jesus’ Economy is both a significant scholarly effort and a practical manual for missions. It reaches the North American reader, as well as my context of Eastern Europe and other regions. John Barry challenges, on both biblical (special revelation) and logical (general revelation) terms, the American church’s contemporary perspective on global missions. He invites us to work toward a holistic approach of sharing the gospel. We do this by moving away from both the culturally insensitive, imperialistic paradigm and the culturally sensitive, ‘withdrawal’ method—which prevents the contemporary church from achieving its global impact. Jesus’ Economy demonstrates how we can serve and empower the impoverished by allowing indigenous leaders to lead the way while providing for basic needs, fully loving other people, and giving sacrificially.”
—DR. GELU PAUL-FAINA
Founding pastor, Vox Domini Baptist (Multisite) Church, Romania
President and founder, Churches with Global Impact;
National Director, Ambassadors for Christ Romania
“The title Jesus’ Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change is an incredible description of what you will discover in John Barry’s new book. It is an excellent resource on the life and ministry of Jesus Christ as a model for the contemporary church. Reading Jesus’ Economy will provide you with a foundation for holistic, cross-cultural ministry in a world void of love and compassion. The church is called to be part of God’s transforming mission to bring His kingdom to all nations. Barry shows how we can empower the global church by supporting the work of indigenous leaders and local believers. I heartily recommend this book to all who want to gain a biblical and theological perspective on how to follow and model Jesus today.”
—DR. ANTONIO CARLOS BARRO
Founder and CEO, South American Theological Seminary, Londrina, Brazil
“Jesus’ Economy offers a sound biblical understanding of poverty—both its roots and its alleviation. John’s text is personal and sincere, written with humility, and reflects the author’s actual experience of dealing with the needy. The approach he advocates is relational and holistic, bringing the soul and the body together. Moreover, John offers some very practical and feasible ideas for how to alleviate poverty through the local church. Worth reading!”
—DR. ANDREY KRAVTSEV
President, Intercultural Connections (a nonprofit in Russia mobilizing pastors to serve in areas with little Christian presence)
Former President, North Caucasus Bible Institute of Russia
“In the context of the developing world, Jesus’ Economy translates the Scriptures into reality. John Barry shows that we must first live within the sacred text—allowing it to read us, examine us, bring life to us, and transform us. It is here where we personally encounter God. In this way, with the biblical text as our interpretive lens, drawing us into communion with God, we can understand how to best eradicate poverty according to Jesus’ economy of sacrifice and love.”
—BISHOP PHILIPO MAFUJA MAGWANO
Africa Inland Church, Tanzania
Celebrate World Book Day and grab your copy of Jesus' Economy today!
Over 500 years before Jesus came in flesh, a prophet proclaimed that one would suffer, die, and rise again for the sin of humanity. It was also prophesied that the resurrection of a Suffering Servant would lead to resurrection for every single person. Here is the gospel according to Isaiah and Daniel. This is Easter proclaimed 500 years before Jesus came in flesh.
This sermon was originally delivered at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on April 1, 2018 (Easter Sunday).
Who do you say that Jesus is? This is the question that Jesus' disciples were confronted with when Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified. This is the core question of the Gospel of Mark. It is also the core question behind what it means to be human. Your answer to this question will change everything about your life.
To explain the message of Mark 8:22–38, I draw on my own life story of God working miraculously to help me overcome a severe speech impediment, as well as a miracle I saw in Bihar, India while I was there designing the Renew Bihar project. I also tell a story from my time in New York City at The Bowery Mission.
How often have we thought that we know exactly what God needs? Or that we understand what God is doing, just to realize later that we were mistaken? That's what happened with the crowds who welcomed Jesus on Palm Sunday; and with King David, who thought that God needed a temple. 1,000 years before Jesus, Nathan prophesied to David that God had different plans. Those plans centered on an eternal king. Those plans prophesied Palm Sunday.
In this sermon, we examine 2 Samuel 7:1–17, an ancient prophetic text that points to Jesus. This sermon was originally delivered at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on April 14, 2019 (Palm Sunday).
Love and religion should go hand in hand. But, as we well know, religion is often used for hate. What does a better ideal of religion look like? For Jesus of Nazareth, religion meant self-sacrificial love. God is love.
This talk was delivered on April 22, 2017 (Earth Day) in Ithaca, NY at the "Believe in Love" Conference. I was invited to speak on the topic of "Love and Religion." You can also read the transcript version of the my "Love and Religion" talk here on the Jesus' Economy Blog.
How was Jesus poor and why did he become poor? Why would God come into the world as a man in poverty? Paul the apostle provides an answer.
“But just as you excel in everything—in faith and in speaking and in knowledge and with all diligence and in the love from us that is in you—so may you excel in this grace [of giving generously] also. I am not saying this as a command, but proving the genuineness of your love by means of the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although he was rich, for your sake he became poor, in order that you, by his poverty, may become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:6–9 LEB).
In making the case for living graciously and generously, Paul pulls in the example of Jesus. He states that Jesus became poor for the sake of the world. The implications of this for our lives cannot be overstated.
The first level of Jesus’ poverty came in his decision to become a human (see Philippians 2:5–11). When Jesus decided to become human he moved from being crowned in glory in heaven to being mortal. He went from being able to move like a spirit to being stuck in flesh. But Jesus took it on gladly, for our sake.
Jesus took on poverty for our sake. He even became poor in a very ordinary way: He grew up in poor Nazareth and was a traveling preacher, who was basically homeless (see Luke 9:57–58).
If Jesus had not chosen to become human, he would not have been able to save us. If Jesus had not become physically poor, he likely would not have been as effective as a minister. Even in his poor appearance, Jesus was an attractive teacher—a stark contrast to the rich teachers of his day (compare Isaiah 53:1).
Jesus understood that it was through enduring poverty that he was able to reach and save humanity. On his way to dying for the world—on the cross—Jesus became a poor man. Those of us with much must realize how incredibly far we actually are from the state Jesus lived in. We must also keep in mind that our poor neighbors understand many things about Jesus that we do not.
This is why Jesus says things like, “Blessed are the poor, because yours is the kingdom of God" (Luke 6:20 LEB). The Macedonians, who Paul talks about just before the above passage in 2 Corinthians, gave out of their poverty because they understood what it meant to be in need (see 2 Corinthians 8:1–5). The wealthy Corinthians had a harder time seeing the perspective of the kingdom of God and hence Paul's not so subtle rebuke.
If Paul was alive today, he would probably remind us of the exact same thing he brought up to the Corinthians: be gracious in your giving and your lifestyle, for Jesus was incredibly gracious to us. Do what you can for those in need. And spread the good news of Jesus at all cost (compare James 1:27).
How does Paul’s perspective on Jesus, giving, and poverty change your perspective? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.*
Want to go deeper into this subject? 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.
*This article is adapted in part from my earlier article, "What Saint Paul Wants You to Understand about Jesus and Poverty."
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
This proverb is a good start, but ultimately inadequate. We must do more than just feed the poor and teach them how to put food on the table. We must walk with the impoverished through the process of coming out of poverty—as their friends. And then, we must connect them to the right resources, so that their livelihoods are sustainable.
We must do more than teach the man to fish—we must fish with him for a while to see what the fishing is like. And then, we must ensure that the fish will always be around. This means connecting people to a larger pool of fish. It means considering not just local economies but the global economy.
When we consider how to best help those who are hurting, we have to think through not just the immediate problems but also the long-term difficulties. We should be asking questions like: How can I help someone not just build a business but be connected to a global marketplace?
So we could say the proverb should be revised to:
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and connect him with the best fishing holes and you feed him for a lifetime.”
But what if the fishing is ruined by the environment or what if people steal the man's fish? How can we fix those types of problems? Our proverb may need even further revision.
Life is about much more than “learning how to fish.” If you teach a person to fish, but don’t meet their other basic needs, they will continue to struggle. It's not good enough to have fish to eat if I don't have clean water to drink or a medic clinic where that can care for my wounds.
Also, if you teach a person to fish but don’t help bring ethical standards to their community, their society will eventually fall apart. The good work will be undone.
There are deep rooted problems in society and these problems are ultimately spiritual. Corruption can destroy any good work. That's where ethics and thus healthy churches come in. We have to change the environment we live in if we want to see lives changed. We have to change the society.
And let’s also not forget what Jesus taught us about fishing in general: We are to do more than meet needs—we must lead people into God’s kingdom and the lifestyle that kingdom demands. Jesus' earliest disciples were fishermen and look what he said to them:
"And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' They immediately left their nets and followed Him" (Matthew 4:18–19 NKJV).
Perhaps, then, we need to revise the proverb once more:
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and connect him with the best fishing holes and you feed him for a time. Join a man in lifting his society out of spiritual and physical poverty and he will never be hungry again."
Although, often the "man" you find will turn out to be woman, whom we should never hesitate to empower. She can lift her entire family out of poverty. Thus the proverb is just as accurate when it reads as follows:
“Give a woman a fish and you feed her for a day. Teach a woman to fish and connect her with the best fishing holes and you feed her for a time. Join a woman in lifting her society out of spiritual and physical poverty and she will never be hungry again."
We need to do everything we can to look at the entire picture: the spiritual and physical problems affecting people. I believe this is how we empower people to overcome poverty. This is what creating a new, spiritual and physical economy for those who need it most is all about. This is what creating Jesus' economy is about.
I hope this article inspires you to do more than teach a man to fish. I hope you decide to really love someone today. Walk with people on their way out of poverty and work with them towards sustainability. Help instill biblical ethics into their community. In the process, I am betting that you will find—as I have—that it alleviates some of your own spiritual poverty.*
*This article is based in part on my previous article, "Moving Beyond 'Teach a Man to Fish'."