You know the feeling: God has called you to do something for him, but you're unsure if you can. The act of service feels too great. Perhaps all you need to take that step of faith is a little perspective. Let's consider how Jesus' economy works. From that consideration emerges three steps that will help you commit to God's work in your life.
We can see Jesus' economy, his perspective on our resources, in how his earliest disciples responded to his call:
“Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, [Jesus] saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him” (Mark 1:16–20 ESV).
Jesus’ earliest followers literally dropped their livelihoods to follow him—they completely dedicated themselves to him. Similarly, we are called to make sacrifices for Jesus—to show others love by giving, praying, and investing in them. We're called to embrace Jesus' economy of self-sacrifice.
To a man with a recently lost love one, Jesus said:
“’Follow me.’ But [the man] said [to Jesus], ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:59–60 ESV).
For Jesus, it’s all about God’s kingdom. There is no time for hesitancy; after all, Jesus (who is God incarnate) is staring right at this man. What can be more important? For us, it too should be all about God’s kingdom. Our lives should be all about living God's economy. And that means that our time, as a resource, is of incredible value to God. Hesitancy has a price. Is God calling you to act now or has he has asked you to wait?
From a different man, Jesus heard this in response:
“‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’ Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:61–62 ESV).
There are no hesitations in service to God’s kingdom and there is no looking back—it’s all about what God is doing here and now. It’s all about putting our hand to the plow of God’s work. Jesus calls his followers to look forward and move forward.
If you love God, you love God's kingdom and you love people. If you love the kingdom, you’re not going to ask yourself what else is important: you’re going to just live for the kingdom. Look forward to what God is doing and embrace it with your whole life.
Jesus has called us to join him in his work—to believe in it with all we have. The cost may be hard to bear or understand at times, but when it’s put in the perspective of all that Christ has done for us—dying for our sins—it seems like very little.
God has asked us to demonstrate our belief by bringing good news to those who feel hopeless. We are called to drop everything for him. This is what Jesus’ economy is all about: envisioning what the world could look like and joining God in the process of making that vision a reality.*
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 from my earlier article, "God's Economy Part Two: Truly Following Jesus."
Millions of people around the world do not have resources to meet their basic needs. These people are living in poverty. Many of them do not have access to clean water, or the ability to buy or grow food. Many of them live in villages or cities with suffering economies, and there are simply no jobs. When people have limited food and water, education gets pushed back. In places like this, families are held captive to cycles of poverty.
Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, and we are reminded of our brothers and sisters suffering in poverty around the world. It is discouraging to think of how many people poverty impacts, and of how the pain carries on to future generations.
The good news is this: we are doing something about it, and you can, too.
Taking action against poverty is one of the ways we as Christians are called to love. In 1 John, John reminded the church of the importance of putting faith in action.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18 ESV).
There are many ways you can bring hope to impoverished people. You can give your time and prayers, donate money to a program you’re passionate about, or even start your own. Poverty is all over the world—in other continents, and in your own city.
If you’re looking for a place to start, Jesus’ Economy has some great programs you can get involved in as we work to renew Bihar, India.
Bihar, India is a state with more than a million people living in extreme poverty. A large cause of the problem is a lack of clean water. Some women and children spend many hours each day walking miles to collect drinking water. This takes up so much time that women cannot work and children cannot go school. Our clean water program raises funds to drill wells in Bihar. Each well can provide safe water for 2,000 people, and so far we have completed four wells.
When families have access to safe water, women have more time to work and provide for their families. Our empowering women program is going to train 40 women to run successful tailoring businesses and sell their products on the western market. These women already have skills in tailoring, but need an opportunity to learn business skills. This program is currently 47 percent funded.
We are working to bring hope through the alleviation of physical and spiritual poverty. Our church planting program funds church planters in various villages in Bihar to set up home churches, and also to go into the villages and share the gospel. At this point, we are funding four church planters, all of whom are additionally starting Bible studies and literacy training as they go. Thousands of people in Bihar are hearing the gospel for the first time, and each church planter brings the gospel to thousands more.
Advik was first sponsored in September 2016, and has started five Bible studies and one house church. Another church planter, Santhosh, recently held a spiritual awakening seminar with 250 people from 16 different villages in attendance. We are so excited about how God is moving in Bihar, India.
Eradicating poverty is not only important, it is the gospel. We love because God loves us. And one way we can show that love is through working to alleviate poverty.
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:16 ESV).
We are called to use what we have to bless others. And it’s not always about money. If you have a little time to give, consider volunteering for an organization that works to alleviate poverty. If you have an extra coat, consider donating it. One small action can be a huge blessing to someone else. Don’t be afraid to do small things and big things to fight poverty. Just remember this: nothing will change if you do nothing at all.
You can alleviate poverty and bring hope to people in so many ways, and we encourage you to be praying about where you can start.
It was a beautiful Sunday morning in Papua New Guinea. The sun was shining, the birds sweetly singing, the dew was glistening on the long, green grass. My neighbors and two visiting men from Australia were driving to a church school about forty-five minutes out of Lae, Papua New Guinea. Along the way they stopped to take photos and to chat with the locals at a bridge, and then again at a market.
Suddenly, as they were getting back into the car, three men wielding guns appeared. They tried to force the driver from the car. One of the visiting men, an aged pastor, decided he would take his chances outside of the car and did not get in. Meanwhile, the driver managed to deftly maneuver the car and escape the clutches of the gunman. Then, realizing that one of his passengers had failed to get in and that the bandits (known locally as ‘raskols’) were becoming interested in this man, he began to aggressively drive his car at the gunmen, trying to scare them off. Shots were fired at his car, damaging the bonnet and grazing the windshield.
In the midst of all this chaos, one brave local woman took hold of the vulnerable, elderly pastor, and ushered him hastily to her humble home. Hiding him in her bedroom she went outside with intentions to guard his life with hers.
Fortunately, it never came to that. The gunmen were chased away by my neighbor's car, their elderly friend was found, and they were all able to continue their journey, shaken by the experience, but praising God that their lives had been spared.
Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” This woman risked her very life to protect someone she did not even know.
How much love do you and I show in our day-to-day lives? Granting an economical smile to the one serving you in a store? Holding a door open for an elderly lady? Sending flowers to your mother on Mother's Day? Giving a hug to a grieving friend?
Jesus gave us a far more revolutionary concept of love. He says, “this is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He also says, “but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
God's perfect way of love goes completely against everything that feels natural as a human. Jesus loved the condemned. Jesus loved the tax collectors. Jesus loved the Samaritans. Jesus loved the thief on the cross. Jesus loved the Roman soldiers who crucified hm. Jesus loved Judas.
Strangely enough, writing the words, “Jesus loved Judas,” seem to prompt one more phrase.
“Jesus loves me.”
I, too, have screwed up, I have tried to force the hand of the Lord (as did Judas), I have denied the Lord—sometimes by my poor choices, and sometimes by missing opportunities to share Him with another. Yet somehow, with all these failings, Jesus still loves me and asks me to show that same kind of love to others.
“ Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
I pray that you and I will be transformed into Jesus-like loving Christians who love others as Jesus first loved us, and who are prepared to put our lives on the line for another—even for a complete stranger.
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Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve others. What if we lived like this? In this VLOG, CEO John D. Barry ponders the mistake we make of living life for ourselves, and suggests that we look to Jesus' example and start helping others get to where they need to be.