In his new book, the founder of the nonprofit Jesus' Economy shares incredible, and often shocking, stories about working among the impoverished and unchurched in the U.S. and abroad. And since John D. Barry is a Bible scholar, Jesus’ Economy is also deeply rooted in the Scriptures. It is a personal, sometimes funny, often heartbreaking account that presents a revolutionary pattern for lasting change. Now you can read the Prologue and the first three chapters of Jesus' Economy for free.


What You'll Get Out of Jesus' Economy

The book is called Jesus’ Economy because it’s about creating a spiritual and physical economy for those who need it most. Here is a thoroughly biblical and compassionate pattern for addressing issues of poverty and offering the hope of the gospel. Jesus’ Economy:

  • Shows how you as an individual can best encourage renewal in your community.
  • Demonstrates how your church community or any group can alleviate poverty.
  • Presents a unified plan for creating jobs, spreading the gospel, and meeting basic needs.
  • Focuses on community development and sustainability—lasting change, globally and locally.

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With everyday choices, you can make the world a better place. Learn how in Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. 100% of author's proceeds go to the nonprofit Jesus' Economy, to fuel the movement of creating jobs and churches in the developing world.

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When 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. More than 30 Christian leaders have now endorsed, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. Here's a sampling of what they're saying.


“In Jesus’ Economy, John Barry points us toward a world where everyone has ‘this day our daily bread.’ Barry reminds us that God didn’t make a world of scarcity, or a world with too many people. Poverty was created by you and me, as we fall short of loving our neighbors as ourselves. As Gandhi put it, ‘There’s enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.’ We created poverty. And we can end it. Jesus and the early church show us the way. In this book, you will find an in-depth look at Scripture and economics, and a beautiful vision for a world where everyone has enough.”

—SHANE CLAIBORNE

Cofounder, The Simple Way and Red Letter Christians

Author, The Irresistible Revolution and Common Prayer

Jesus’ Economy is fast moving and 'heart' hitting. It will bring conviction. It will also give you hope. I am happy to commend its widest reading.”

—DR. DANIEL L. AKIN

President, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Author or editor of numerous books and Bible commentaries, including I Am Going (with Bruce Riley Ashford) and Vibrant Church (with Thom S. Rainer)

Jesus’ Economy weaves together Scripture, realities of the world of poverty, and in-depth personal experience to produce a fine handbook for practical mission work. For John Barry, effective ministry is informed, holistic, and sacrificial—and his life bears this out.”

—ROBERT D. LUPTON

Best-selling author of several books, including Toxic Charity; Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life; and Theirs Is the Kingdom

President, FCS Urban Ministries

“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

“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

“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

Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Author, No More Cheeks to Turn? and When Evil Strikes: Faith and the Politics of Human Hostility

“Jesus-followers with a kingdom perspective approach life as one big mission trip. John Barry’s Jesus’ Economy provides a clarion call to live as viral kingdom agents (the answer to ‘Why am I here?’) but also provides practical ways to love our neighbors (‘What do I do?’ and ‘How do I do it?’). John accomplishes this without scolding and shaming. Instead, he persistently encourages. The message of the book is ‘You can do this!’ We sometimes allow difficult circumstances or stalled progress to challenge our faith in this certainty. Then a book like Jesus’ Economy comes along and helps us believe all over again.”

—DR. REGGIE MCNEAL

Best-selling author whose works include The Present Future, Missional Renaissance, Kingdom Come, Kingdom Collaborators, and A Work of Heart

Missional Leadership Specialist, Leadership Network

“We often think of poverty as just an economic issue, but poverty has both economic and spiritual roots and effects. John Barry understands this and in Jesus’ Economy, he offers a long-term strategy for healing both physical and spiritual poverty: job creation, church planting, and meeting people’s basic needs, with a focus on community development and sustainability.”

—DR. JAY W. RICHARDS

Author of many books, including the New York Times bestsellers Infiltrated and Indivisible, and the 2010 Templeton Enterprise Award-winner Money, Greed, and God

Research Assistant Professor, Busch School of Business, The Catholic University of America Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute

Learn to live Jesus' economy, the currency of love. Pick up your copy of Jesus' Economy today.

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Whenever I read the words of Dr. King, I am struck by how clearly he understood the world's problems. I also stand in awe of his belief in the power of the individual to do right and change the world. In one of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s lesser read works, The Measure of a Man, he says this:

"Therefore whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live more than twenty-eight or thirty years, I can never be totally healthy even if I just got a good check-up at Mayo Clinic. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made. No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent. We are interdependent."

"This is the way our world is made. ... We are interdependent." If only we remembered these words as we remember Dr. King and his legacy. Think of how different our world would be if we recognized that no nation, no segment of society, and no individual is more important than the whole human race.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dimensions of a Whole Life

In The Measure of a Man, King does what a good reverend would do (did you forget that he was foremost a pastor?) and preaches the Bible. From the Bible and philosophy, King speaks of three dimensions of a complete life:

  1. Your inner being (or inner life).
  2. Other people, whom we serve by using our calling, skills, and gifts.
  3. God himself, who is above all.

King describes this as a triangle:

"These are the three dimensions of Me, and without the three being correlated, working harmoniously together, life is incomplete. Life is something of a great triangle. At one angle stands the individual person, at the other angle stand other persons, and at the top stands the Supreme, Infinite Person, God. These three must meet in every individual life if that life is to be complete."

Dr. King's View of the Complete Life [INFOGRAPHIC]

According to Dr. King's The Measure of a Man, the complete life looks like this infographic.

Dimension One of Life: Me

While there are some people whose lives seem envy worth, because they have acquired wealth and power, they lose what King calls "the breadth of life." Even a life with cultivated skills and a honed inner life will lack meaning. The cultivation of skills and the honing of gifts is essential, but a true and deep inner examination should lead a person to look beyond themselves.

Dimension Two of Life: Us

Some people learn to care deeply for other people and that gives their lives "breadth," a meaning beyond themselves. And King has in mind here much more than just care for one's family and inner circle: "we are [all of humanity] interdependent ... we are all involved in a single process, ... we are all somehow caught in an inescapable network of mutuality."

The inner life then becomes something cultivated for larger purposes: it is not for my gain but the betterment of humanity.

Humanity is made by God to be interconnected. This is why the second greatest commandment is to love my neighbor as myself (Matthew 22:36–40). What is good for you is also good for me. What is good for them is also good for us. What is good for humanity betters my life even (and perhaps especially) when it requires personal sacrifice.

Dimension Three of Life: God

"Seek God and discover him and make him a power in your life. Without him all of our efforts turn to ashes and our sunrises into darkest nights. Without him, life is a meaningless drama with the decisive scenes missing."

In the end, life without God and his community, the Church, is lacking. It is God who moves to create lasting change and God to whom we look for the grace required to do the work of making our world a better place. It is God who can break down national, racial, ethnic, and economic barriers.

The Full Life According to MLK: Love God + Love People + Love Self

King remarks that if one is to measure a life's success at accomplishing God's purposes, we need simply to remember three things:

"Love yourself, if that means rational, healthy, and moral self-interest. You are commanded to do that. That is the length of life. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. You are commanded to do that. That is the breadth of life. But never forget that there is a first and even greater commandment, 'Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul and all thy mind.' This is the height of life. And when you do this you live the complete life."



The work of Dr. King has been a deep inspiration to me. In many regards, his work inspired me to change my entire life and dedicate it to serving the impoverished and people yet to hear Jesus' name. King's views on the interconnected world and the centrality of the church influenced me as I wrote my recently released book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change.

John Barry here, founder of the nonprofit Jesus' Economy. Have you ever had one of those moments when, after a long journey, you feel like you finally understand what God has been doing?

On the road of following Jesus into the unknown of starting the nonprofit Jesus' Economyand then selling our house and most of what we own to go full-time with the organization—Kalene and I have often felt vulnerable, scared, and even alone. But along the way, Jesus has taught us much and drawn us closer to himself. Today, I have the honor of presenting that journey to you in the form of my new book Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change.

In the book Jesus' Economy, I invite you to journey with me into the unknown. I tell you stories from my time serving with the nonprofit Jesus' Economy in Northeast India, working among the homeless in the Pacific Northwest, and working on church planting initiatives in a primarily unchurched area of the United States. As I lived these stories, God taught me what it means to truly love. That's why I share them with you.

This journey also goes into the ancient world as we learn from our teacher Jesus, his earliest followers, and the biblical prophets. In their teachings, we find that a biblical pattern for alleviating poverty and sharing the love of Jesus emerges. Throughout the book, I draw on my background in biblical scholarship to answer the question, "What is a biblical view of poverty?" It's probably not what you would guess.

At the heart of the book is an idea that changed my entire life. That idea is that Jesus has a new economy in mind. Jesus' economy is based on self-sacrifice and his currency is love.

I want to empower you to live Jesus' economythe currency of love. And that's why the book Jesus' Economy includes an entire section that is very practical. It tells you how to sustainably and effectively alleviate poverty in a wide variety of contexts.

Join the movement by picking up your copy of my new book Jesus' Economy. 100% of my proceeds go to the nonprofit Jesus' Economy to fuel the movement of creating jobs and churches in the developing world.

Announcing the Book ...

Jesus' Economy

For years, we've been working on a resource that empowers you to alleviate poverty and share the love of Jesus. On Tuesday, it arrives. Announcing our founder's book Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change.

How to live Jesus' economy—a currency of love

The book Jesus’ Economy:

  • Shows how you as an individual can best encourage renewal in your community.
  • Demonstrates how your church community or any group can alleviate poverty.
  • Presents a unified plan for creating jobs, spreading the gospel, and meeting basic needs.
  • Focuses on community development and sustainability—lasting change, globally and locally.

Support the movement by placing your pre-order today.

100% of author's proceeds go to the nonprofit Jesus' Economy, to fuel the movement of creating jobs and churches in the developing world.

 Find Out More  

LIFE CHANGING BOOKS THAT FUND JESUS' ECONOMY

The founder of Jesus' Economy, John D. Barry, is an author and editor. And now you can buy his books right on JesusEconomy.org! By purchasing John's books on JesusEconomy.org, you will help fuel the movement of Jesus' Economy. You will also get free shipping on every book! In addition, all of John's books are 10 percent off right now, for one week only!

SHOP JOHN'S BOOKS TO FUEL THE MOVEMENT

Not Your Average Bible Study Series

This series of studies works through books of the Bible verse by verse, even phrase by phrase, with practical prayer suggestions and guided reflection questions for individual or group study. For this series, John has authored studies on the books of Malachi, Colossians, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, and 2 Peter and Jude.

Connect the Testaments: A 365-Day Devotional with Bible Reading Plan

This 365-day devotional, which John co-authored with Rebecca Van Noord, covers the full span of the Bible in one year. The included reading plan curates readings each day from the Old Testament, New Testament, and poetic literature. John and Rebecca’s devotionals will help you grasp how the entire Bible is connected to reveal and exalt Jesus Christ. Practical questions at the end of each section help you reflect on what it looks like to live out the love of Jesus in everyday life.

Cutting Ties with Darkness: How to Have Healthy Relationships

In this study of 2 Corinthians, John uses Paul’s relationship with the church he established in Corinth to explore how Christians should deal with broken relationships. This study will equip you with godly wisdom to help you discern when to reconcile in relationships and when to walk away, by cutting ties with darkness.


Use John's Books in Your Next Bible Study: Bulk Discounts Available!

These studies by John are perfect for your small group, Sunday school class, or small group. If you want to order several books for your group, we can offer you a bulk discount on John's books. Contact us at 1-855-355-3266 or info@jesuseconomy.org.


ABOUT OUR FOUNDER, JOHN D. BARRY


John D. Barry is the CEO and founder of Jesus' Economy. As such, he has dedicated his life to creating jobs and churches in the developing world. He also serves as a missionary with Resurrect Church Movement, the domestic division of Jesus' Economy dedicated to equipping U.S. churches to alleviate poverty and plant churches. John is the General Editor of Faithlife Study Bible and Lexham Bible Dictionary. He has authored or edited over 30 books, including Resurrected Servant in Isaiah, Cutting Ties with Darkness, and the daily devotional Connect the Testaments. John formerly served as founding Publisher of Lexham Press for Faithlife Corporation (the makers of Logos Bible Software) and is the former Editor-in-Chief of Bible Study Magazine, a product he launched. John speaks internationally on engaging the Bible, poverty, and spreading the gospel.

We hope that these books will help you gain understanding of the heart of our organization and, most importantly, the heart of Christ. Each and every purchase goes to support operations to fuel the movement of Jesus' Economy. Now that’s a win-win.

Get 10% Off & Free Shipping on Books by John

 

At times, justice becomes a bit of a catch phrase, sadly even a cliché. Yet it’s one of the most important concepts we can understand and live. I have seen injustice with my own eyes, and each day the news tells each of us of acts of injustice. But rather than feel defeat, let’s stand up, take action, and do something about it. Here are four ways justice should be the cry of today’s Christian.

1. Jesus experienced injustice, so we would not experience judgment.

In the Garden of Gethsemane, we see Jesus taking on our pain and anguish—and on the cross, we see him taking on our sin. Think about these four things Jesus says and prays in the Garden:

“Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

“My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.”

“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

“My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will must be done” (Matthew 26:36–46 LEB).

It is here that we see the man—Jesus. It is here that we find one who walks alongside the downtrodden, the hurting, the poor, the outsider, the refugee, the sinner—all the way to the cross. Here we find the one who walks alongside all of us, all the way to the cross. Here we see God enfolding, through Jesus, all people into his kingdom. Jesus does God’s will, so that we can have life.

In the garden, Jesus asks if the cup can be removed from him; but not his will, but God the Father’s be done. Jesus realizes the burden he is about to carry. This burden is described in Isaiah (over 500 years before Jesus) as:

“By a restraint of justice, [the servant] was taken away and with his generation.

Who could have mused that [the servant] would be cut off from the land of the living? Marked for the transgression of my people.

And [Yahweh] set his grave with the wicked, and [the servant] was with the rich in his death, although [the servant] had done no wrong, and there was no deceit in his mouth

Yet Yahweh was pleased to crush [the servant]; he afflicted him (with sickness). If [Zion] places [the servant’s] life a guilt offering, [the servant] will see offspring, [the servant] will prolong days. And the will of Yahweh is in [the servant’s] hand, it will succeed. Out of trouble of his life [the servant] will see; [the servant] will be satisfied by his knowledge.

[Yahweh says,] ‘My righteous servant will bring justice to many and he will bear their iniquities’ ” (Isaiah 53:8–11, my translation).

As painful as it is, it pleased Yahweh that Jesus should go to the cross, for it is in this that God found not just ultimate obedience, but also the bridging of humanity with himself. The judgment of God for our wrongdoings was satisfied. Once again, we were put into right relationship with God.

It is in Jesus that we find the refugee on the cross. Here we find the guilt offering for all of our wrongs. Here we find one who carries our sin, bears our iniquities, and intercedes for transgressors. Here we find a restraint of justice bringing justice to those who do not deserve it.

But what will we do with this justice, with this freedom?

2. Injustice is a threat to justice everywhere.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. in his work from Birmingham Jail. And it is injustice that we see today—all over our planet.

Near the end of his life, Martin Luther King, Jr. was working to bring equality by creating jobs. And yet, so much of the world still lacks jobs, because we haven’t completed the task. This is injustice.

We look around the world and we also see those who are oppressed—who lack spiritual and religious freedom, who lack knowledge of Jesus. This too is an injustice.

We must stand up, lift up, and rise up—to fight these injustices, boldly proclaiming that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

3. A lack of access to jobs and the basics of life is injustice.

We can read Jesus’ call to care for the “least of these” in Matthew 25:37–40 as a direct preface and parallel to what he will do on the cross. Jesus went to the cross to make us who do not deserve to be right before God, made right. And just before doing so, he calls us to live this message—noting for us that whether or not we did will be a primary question when he one day returns to earth.

So when we look around our world, and see a lack of access to basic healthcare, clean water, and jobs—like I have seen in the impoverished region of Bihar, India—we know that we must take action.

Jesus cries out for this. This is the Christian cry. And it is my personal cry, as I am personally broken for the hurting that I know in Bihar—for those who have placed their hands in my hands and cried out to God with me for justice.

4. A lack of access to the gospel is injustice.

We can also read the final words of Matthew’s Gospel, spoken by Jesus, as a commission based on his ministry in life, on the cross, and in his resurrection. And it’s a commission of action. Jesus says:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20 LEB).

Yet, there are still millions of people who have not heard Jesus’ name—again, this is the case in Bihar, India. In Bihar, there are 101 Million people who have never heard the name of Jesus. This again, is an injustice. All people deserve the chance to have access to the gospel.

The question becomes for each of us: What will we do about it? Why are we content with the knowledge of God, but not the actions of God? When will justice become part of the gospel? Because in actuality it is—we’re just not living it.

Do not walk away with guilt; walk away inspired to take action. Let’s continue the work of Jesus, the apostles, the early church fathers, and people like Martin Luther King, Jr. Let’s mark this season as the one everything changed, and we began to renew our world again with Christ, by his power and grace.

Gospel work is a process. And there are days when it feels like the road ahead feels not just rocky, but downright treacherous. We’ve all been here. It is in these moments that it can feel difficult to go on with Christ’s work. When all feels hopeless, here are some ideas of what you can do.

Consider the Birds of the Air

We often forget just how holistic God’s work is. And God can manage the concerns of his creation, surely he can manage our concerns. Jesus once said:

“For this reason I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, what you will eat, and not for your body, what you will wear. Is your life not more than food and your body more than clothing? Consider the birds of the sky, that they do not sow or reap or gather produce into barns, and your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth more than they are? And who among you, by being anxious, is able to add one hour to his life span?” (Matthew 6:25–27 LEB).

Anxiety and worry is easy. Faith is hard. But if we lack faith, we need to look no further than the birds of the air to realize God’s faithfulness. And this isn’t some sort of “easy way out” theology. I am advocating that we actually stop and observe—contemplate, pray, and then act. Notice the order: stop, observe, contemplate, pray, and then act.

Once we visibly observe God’s work, trust in him becomes much easier. In the midst of hopelessness, we must realize that we serve a God who shows us everyday that we can indeed have hope (Hebrews 11:1).

Consider the Flowers of the Field

It can seem a bit cliché at times, but it’s an important reminder: God’s creation is beautifully clothed, so why would he not also care for you? In the same passage we have already looked at, Jesus goes on to say:

“And why are you anxious about clothing? Observe the lilies of the field, how they grow: they do not toil or spin, but I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory was dressed like one of these. But if God dresses the grass of the field in this way, although it is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not do so much more for you, you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:28–30 LEB).

We struggle over our concerns of today, but how often do they merely fade into the background when tomorrow comes. At times, we wonder where God’s provision will come from while we forget what he did yesterday. Think of what God did yesterday—that may change everything about today.

Consider the “Value” Anxiety Brings

Anxiety brings no real value to our lives. Instead, it concerns our mind and occupies our time. It’s meant to distract us from what is real and important—what matters, which is our loving God and the work he wants to do through our hands. Jesus concludes his remarks about worry and anxiety by saying:

“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?,’ for the pagans seek after all these things. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow, because tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:31–34 LEB).

If we seek first God’s kingdom, everything else fades into the background. As we turn our focus from ourselves to Jesus, we see that our concerns about ourselves were really not that important at all. When we mentally place our fate in God’s hands—which it literally is anyways—our perspective shifts and we realize what’s most important: knowing God and accomplishing his purposes by loving others.

Why Our “Concerns” Truly Matter

It’s so easy to toil from one day to the next without acknowledging what God has done the day before. I make that mistake, and I’m sure you have made that mistake before too. And lest we think this is a small matter, let’s take a moment and contemplate why changing our perspective is so important.

When we change our perspective from our worries and concerns—from food, clothing, materialism, and even our personal goals—and turn our focus towards God’s goals, we have an opportunity to truly change the world. Around our globe there are people who are suffering in poverty, and people who have never had the opportunity to hear the name of Jesus. If our perspective is skewed, we will never find the strength we need to address these issues. We will lack the courage necessary to do God’s work, because we will be paralyzed by fear. But if we have courage, imagine what could happen.

God has incredible things in store for this world. Joining him means partnering with him, and partnering with him means setting our eyes on Jesus.

 

Join us in providing access to the gospel in Bihar, India, where 101 million people have never heard the name of Jesus. Together, we can renew hope.

It's always surreal to review your past year. There is part of you that feels good about your accomplishments and part of you that wishes more goodness would have occured. I recently experienced these emotions when launching the 2014 Annual Report for Jesus' Economy. Here are some spiritual lessons I learned through my reflections.

Hindsight is Always Hindsight

Hindsight offers so much clarity that the process does not. When I look at some of the bigger decisions Jesus' Economy made in 2014, I only wish we had made those shifts earlier. I have to remind myself that I can only have that emotion in hindsight. In realtime, ideas come together slowly: We need input and discussion to draw wise conclusions, and much prayer. Rather than wishing for changes sooner, we should be glad that we were open to changes when we were.

This makes me think of James' words: "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him ... let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak" (James 1:5, 19).

We Must Be Truly Grateful for What God Did

I always want to do more and be more, and in the process, I easily forget to thank God for what he has done. Near the end of assembling our annual report, I began going back through it and emphasizing the work of God. What happened through Jesus' Economy in 2014 is nothing short of a miracle, and I need to give God credit for it. It was God who came through for us, to make his work happen. We are merely stewards of this effort. When you see all the work put together in one picture, like an annual report, this becomes obvious. Thus, I wonder if this is a process we should apply to our lives in general. If we were to review regularly, would we more easily see God at work and be grateful for it?

Simply put: There is no value in wishing for more in retrospect. There is only value in being grateful for our "portion" and what God has done with it. This is the lesson of the book of Ecclesiastes. We should be grateful for growth, but also grateful for sustainability. Another way to put it: Growth too fast makes the heart grow weary. We should be grateful for sustainability, not longing after growth that is overly ambitious. For that type of growth will not last.

Reflecting on the Past Should Make You Dream

Reflecting on this past year has made me dream about all the great things that could be, and all the incredible work that I want to see God do. Our dreams must fold into God's dreams (the lesson of Ecclesiastes 5:1-7), but once we're certain of God's dreams, we should pray and work to make those dreams real (Matt 7:7-11).

Once again, simply put: We should celebrate the victories of God and then act on what we believe he wants to do next. And along the way, we should pray, pray, and then pray again.

I am thankful for these lessons. They profoundly remind me that all of us merely steward God's work in the world. We are all instruments that God is using to play his beautiful song. Let's dream with him and sing with him.

In Bihar, India church planters are facing a great challenge. There are millions of people who have never even heard the name of Jesus. I met over a dozen church planters when in Bihar—they changed my life. They were like meeting Saint Paul, over and over again.

One church planter said: “I lead six churches in five villages and three small groups. I also oversee five Bible studies.” He then went on to list half a dozen community development programs he leads, all of which empower people in rural villages. I was flabbergasted.

Another said: “We’re reaching out to villages who have never heard the name of Jesus” and “The message is empowering people—they’re being healed and finding a new life.”

“There are women who are finding hope again for themselves and their children in the gospel of Jesus,” said yet another church planter. “They’re seeing that Jesus can change their lives for the better and embracing the gospel.”

The Renewal Jesus Offers

The good news of Jesus is renewing lives in Bihar, India. Stories like these are just a few of hundreds. But these questions don’t just motivate me; they convict me.

When you meet a church planter who has given up everything to provide others access to the gospel, you suddenly realize that you can spend your entire life studying the Bible and not understand Jesus. Am I willing to give what these church planters give? Am I willing to live as Saint Paul lived, like they are?

What does the process of making a complete commitment to providing access to the gospel look like? For Paul, it was his direct experience with Jesus (Acts 9), but it was also more. Acts tells this story:

"Now there were prophets and teachers in Antioch in the church that was there: Barnabas, and Simeon (who was called Niger), and Lucius the Cyrenian, and Manaen (a close friend of Herod the tetrarch), and Saul. And while they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart now for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Then, after they had fasted and prayed and placed their hands on them, they sent them away" (Acts 13:1-3).

For Paul, his decision to provide others with access to the gospel began with a personal experience, but then moved to a group decision. It also, most importantly, involved the direct words of the Holy Spirit. Paul knew he was called, but he waits for this moment to commit all of his time to it. God was working in Paul's life the entire time, but this moment marked his full-time commitment.

Admitting to Yourself the Truth

Being around church planters in Bihar made me admit to myself that I am not as hardworking for Jesus as I thought I was, and furthermore that I actually know very little about what it means to follow Jesus. I don’t say this to be self-depreciating—in some kind of false humility; I actually mean it. Meeting church planters in Bihar, India is like meeting people who lived like Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy. And meeting those kinds of people will change you.

My time in Bihar made me realize, as we all should—that no matter what our calling is—that we have a long ways to go. And that Jesus wants to work on our hearts to get us where we need to be. No matter what our specific calling, he will use it for his glory, but we must first be willing to admit our weaknesses and be used by him (Phil 4:12-14). We must also wait on God's precise timing, as Paul and Barnabas did.

What Are You Willing to Give?

When Paul decided to pursue a global ministry, he was giving up other parts of life for Jesus. Nonetheless, Paul—and likewise the church planters in Bihar—made the decision to share about Jesus and the incredible life he offers. They committed their lives to providing access to the gospel and alleviating poverty.

No matter what your precise calling is, Christ wants to renew your life, for the better. And along the way, during the discernment process, he will be with you.

 

We are actively working to renew Bihar, India through church planting: Please join us. For just $226, you can support a church planter for a month. You can help people hear the name of Jesus for the first time.

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