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."

The story of God and his people has profound implications for our lives and our calling. We are part of this story. The book of Isaiah retells this story and, in doing so, offers a prophecy about Jesus. Over 500 years before Jesus, we learn of a servant that will take up Israel's call and suffer, die, and rise on our behalf. We also learn what our calling means.

In this sermon, I expound upon my extensive research for The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah. Isaiah illustrates God's purpose for our lives.

I originally delivered this sermon at The Table, a missional church plant in Bellingham, WA, on May 31, 2015.

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.

Our lives are often struggles. We search for meaning and have desires. Some of these are self-prompted, others from the divine spark inside. We look to God as a guide, wondering if we will find what we’re looking for. Paul sensed this same struggle and urgency in the Thessalonian Christians and penned words that still resonate today.

“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith” (2 Thessalonians 1:11 NIV).

Paul could see far beyond his life. He looked into the future and saw a day when Jesus would return—to make all things right and new (2 Thessalonians 1:6–10). He looked beyond his life and held onto something eternal. This changed absolutely everything.

The Perspective Prayer Provides

Paul desired that the Thessalonian Christians would share his perspective. Jesus had called them to something truly extraordinary: to be a beacon of hope in a struggling world. But this hope was not rooted deep in themselves; it wasn’t about finding themselves. It was about finding their calling in Christ Jesus. It was about finding the divine spark of Christ and embracing it.

Jesus is at work in our lives. He is working in us to bring about goodness for this struggling and hurting world. Rather than look at the despair of our world and merely cry, we must look at the pain and ask God to use us for good.

Prayer Shows Us What God is Doing in Us

God is working in us to bring about goodness. He is faithfully prompting us to take action on his behalf.

The eternal perspective of Jesus’ return should prompt us to stop and look around. It should prompt us to ask how we can be people who bring mercy to the hurting. It should prompt us to love. It should prompt us to do good. It should prompt us to ask God to change us, to make us more like him—so that we may love better and more fully. 

Prayer gives us divine perspective. Sometimes that is in a word from God. But more often, we experience in prayer the deep rooted sense that God is present. God is with us. God is working is us, even now, to make us worthy of the calling that he has placed upon our lives. Take that hope with you today. Take that hope to prayer.*


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.



*This article is adapted from my previous article, "An Eternal Perspective on Our Prayers."

 

There are words that change your life forever. This is the case for words of love and words of grief. This is the case for a word that inspires us to take up a calling and a word that makes our whole world come crashing down. What is the key to strength and courage when such a word is spoken? Where does our help come from?

In this sermon, I examine Joshua 1 to find the key to strength and courage. This sermon was originally delivered at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on July 8, 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.

We often think of giving as one way, but the biblical writer Paul sees it very differently. For Paul, the work of God is not a linear process, but a cycle. When we give, it’s not just the receivers who get a gift, but also us.

Why We Give and How We Give

When addressing the need for the Corinthian church to give to the impoverished church in Jerusalem, Paul says:

“The one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one should give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or from compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to cause all grace to abound to you, so that in everything at all times, because you have enough of everything, you may overflow in every good work. Just as it is written, ‘He scattered widely, he gave to the poor; his righteousness remains forever’” (2 Corinthians 9:6–9 LEB).

Saint Paul's 7 Lessons on Giving

Here are seven lessons we can glean from what Paul said to the Corinthian church:

  1. If you give much, for the right reasons, you will receive much.
  2. Give what you feel led to give.
  3. God wants you to be cheerful when you give.
  4. God will be abundantly gracious to givers.
  5. If you give what you feel led to give, you will have more than enough.
  6. When you learn to give, you will overflow in every good work.
  7. Giving to others is an expression of righteousness—right living (Psalm 112:9).

When you express what Paul said in seven points like this, his statements suddenly become both shocking and hard to believe. (“Could God really view giving this way?” we may ask.) Yet giving is a fundamental law and order of God. It is how the world is meant to function. Nothing that we hold is truly ours—instead, what we have (everything we have) is a gift to steward. It is meant to be shared (see Luke 19:11–27).

Put simply, giving is a two-way street. One could even say giving is a three-way street: the person who is benefiting from the gift; the person who gives who is changed by the act; and God who blesses those involved.

When we give to others, all sorts of possibilities are opened up. The cycle of poverty can be ended and the cycle of our lives can be transformed in the process. The question is: Will we believe Paul and act on his words?*


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.



*This article is adapted from my earlier article, "7 Lessons about Giving from Saint Paul." The research for this article became part of my 2019 book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change.

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.

We all know our world is broken and hurting. We’re left wondering, what can I do about such big problems? How can I make the world a better place? We find Jesus’ response in Luke 4:16–21, which records a scene from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus shows us that his gospel is about our whole lives.

In this sermon, I examine Luke 4:16–21. In the process of doing so, I utilize research from my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. I also draw on stories from the work of pioneering church planters in Northeast India. This sermon was originally delivered at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on February 3, 2019.

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


Enjoy this sermon? Check out 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.

Our world is full of barriers. There are social, economic, racial, and gender barriers. As Christians, we have often shied away from addressing such issues, yet the gospel calls us to break down social barriers. This is profoundly seen in Paul's letter to Philemon. 

In this sermon, I examine closely the book of Philemon. This sermon was originally delivered at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on October 7, 2018.

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

Break Down Social Barriers: Renew a Community

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Today is National Read a Book Day, a day meant to encourage everyone to pick up a book they will enjoy and spend the day reading it. Here at Jesus' Economy, we're readers. You could even call us bookish. Our reading has become the research that supports much of what we do. For my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change, I assembled the following reading list, which I now recommend to you.

If you decide to buy any of these books, don't forget to support Jesus' Economy using AmazonSmile.

Reading List on Poverty, Missions, and Economic Development

While it’s often hard to quantify how ideas influence us and where these ideas eventually resurface, I know the following set of books greatly influenced my writing of Jesus’ Economy. It is the ideas of these authors that operate in the background of my writing.

It’s difficult to know if you will have the same epiphany moments I did when reading these works, but I hope that the combination of books listed here will cause you to think differently. I hope that in reading further on this topic, you will become a little wiser, a little cleverer, and more emotionally attuned to the needs of our world. I hope the writings of other authors will help you see more clearly how to live Jesus’ economy in all aspects of life.

The Short List of Books I Regularly Recommend

Seriously, You Have to Read This

The Bible. Pick a readable translation and get on a consistent reading plan where you regularly read the Bible in its entirety. Also, try a study Bible focused on the ancient context; it will help illuminate the text.

Knowing the Issues at Stake When Serving the Impoverished

Robert D. Lupton, Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It). | In 2012, I wrote an article for Relevant Magazine on lessons from Toxic Charity, "How Should Christians Help the Poor."

Jacqueline Novogratz, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World. | At the inception of Jesus' Economy, I dialogued with The Blue Sweater in a series of blog posts; see "What I Learned from Jaqueline Novogratz."

Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time. | Near the beginning of Jesus' Economy, I also wrote a series of blog posts interacting with The End of Poverty; see "What I Learned from Jeffrey Sachs."

Understanding Local and Global Poverty Firsthand

Miriam Adeney, Kingdom Without Borders: The Untold Story of Global Christianity.

Ron Hall and Denver Moore, with Lynn Vincent. Same Kind of Different as Me.

Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World.

Tass Saada with Dean Merrill. Once an Arafat Man: The True Story of How a PLO Sniper Found a New Life.

What It Means to Be Christian, Church Planting, and Living on Jesus’ Mission

Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch. The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church.

Michael W. Goheen, Introducing Christian Mission Today: Scripture, History, and Issues

C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.

Reggie McNeal, Missional Renaissance: Changing the Scorecard for the Church.

Lesslie Newbigin, A Word in Season: Perspectives on Christian World Missions.

J. D. Payne, Discovering Church Planting: An Introduction to the Whats, Whys, and Hows of Global Church Planting.

William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity.

Other Books Well Worth Reading

If you finish that first reading list and want to go even deeper into this subject, here are other resources I consulted while writing Jesus’ Economy.

Perspectives on Poverty, Power, Culture, and Justice

Sunday Bobai Agang, When Evil Strikes: Faith and the Politics of Human Hostility. | Sunday Bobai Agang is a Board Member of Jesus' Economy and has written widely in this space.

Anne Bradley and Art Lindsley, eds., For the Least of These: A Biblical Answer to Poverty.

Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself

William Easterly, The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. | I also wrote a series of blog posts dialoguing with this book; see "What I Learned from William Easterly."

Duane Elmer, Cross-Cultural Conflict: Building Relationships for Effective Ministry.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Why We Can’t Wait.

Martin Luther King, Jr., The Measure of a Man. | For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I wrote an article with accompanying infographic on how Dr. King thought we should each measure our lives. See, "The Complete Life According to Martin Luther King, Jr."

Eng Hoe, Lim, The Gospel of the Kingdom: Revealing the Heart of God. | At one point, I reflected on a conversation I had with Eng Hoe, Lim about "Spiritual Issues Often Associated with Poverty."

Robert D. Lupton, Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life: Rethinking Ministry to the Poor.

Michael Matheson Miller, dir., Poverty Cure. DVD.

Michael Matheson Miller, dir., Poverty, Inc. DVD.

Soong-Chan Rah, The Next Evangelicalism: Releasing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity.

E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible.

Perspectives on Missions

Harvie M. Conn and Manuel Ortiz, Urban Ministry: The Kingdom, the City, and the People of God.

Alan Hirsch, The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church.

Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society.

C. René Padilla, Mission Between the Times: Essays on the Kingdom.

Perspectives on Life Change, Balance, Calling, and Work

Leo Babauta, The Power of Less: The Fine Art of Limiting Yourself to the Essential…in Business and in Life. | See my review of The Power of Less on JohnDBarry.com, "Minimizing to Be More Effective."

Edward R. Dayton and Ted W. Engstrom, Strategy for Living: How to Make the Best Use of Your Time and Abilities. | I discuss the relevance of this book in an article on JohnDBarry.com, "Goals Are Often Selfish."

Donald Miller, Searching for God Knows What.

Ryan J. Pemberton, Called: My Journey to C. S. Lewis’s House and Back Again. | Ryan Pemberton serves on the Board of Jesus' Economy. See my review of Called on JohnDBarry.com, "Calling Is Complex." You can also read an excerpt of Called on the Jesus' Economy Blog, "Faith as Beautiful as Fireworks: Calling, Atheism, and Oxford."

Richard A. Swenson, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives.

Hugh Whelchel, How Then Should We Work?: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work.

Perspectives on Entrepreneurship and Business

Scott Berkun, The Myths of Innovation. | On some of the ideas behind this book, see my article on JohnDBarry.com, "The Lightbulb Alone is Useless."

Seth Godin, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? | On some of Godin's ideas, see my article on JohnDBarry.com, "Here's the Truth."

Michael Lewis, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. | On how the breakthrough of the Oakland A's applies to business, see my article on JohnDBarry.com, "Playing Business Like the Oakland A's."

Michael Lewis, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine.

Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur, Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers.

T. J. Stiles, The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt. | See my full book review of The First Tycoon at JohnDBarry.com, "Could You Be the Next Cornelius Vanderbilt?"

This recommended reading list was originally published in my book, Jesus' Economypages 172–175.

Call Me Bookish, But This is Why I Read

I once had a supervisor who said, "There are two ways to gain more experience: live longer and read." We read to expand our worldview, our experiences, and our mindset. We read because it helps us grow. We read because it helps us gain experience of the mind, accelerating the rate by which we become wiser.

 

Have you picked up your copy of 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.

Our world is deeply painful. Jesus' parables are meant to give us perspective. God has not abandoned us, but is deeply attuned to our needs. God is ready to receive us like a loving father. But to fully understand the perspective the parables offer, we have to understand how the parables are interconnected. The Gospels present parables in a particular order, next to other parables and stories, because they share themes. The parables in Luke 15, 16, and 18 show this to be the case. These parables show the challenge of the gospel, but also its incredible grace.

This lecture is part four of a four-part series on "Studying Jesus' Parables." In this series, I draw on my research for my book, Parables: Portraits of the Kingdom in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. In Jesus’ parables, we find a rabbi who will turn our world upside down. And that’s a good thing.

This lecture was delivered at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA) on March 21, 2018. Get more talks like this one by subscribing to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunesSpotify, or SoundCloud.

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