Saturday, June 28, 2014

Jesus was a socialist.

What would Jesus do if he were the President of the United States, or Senate Majority Leader, or a Congressman/woman, or a super-successful entrepreneur, or any of a million other similar scenarios imaginable.

Would he feed the hungry? Would she clothe the naked? House the poor? Would she heal the sick? Would he invest in the stock market? Pick and choose who should be helped and who refused aid, based on... anything?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but a big part of being a Christian involves the acceptance and earnest practice of the principles taught by the movement’s founder, Jesus of Nazareth; those principles being love, charity, healing, and forgiveness. The whole Son of God, divinity, salvation aspect of Christianity is irrelevant to this essay. This is about what Jesus taught regarding how we should live together.

My family attended a Methodist Church when I was young. I voluntarily joined a Southern Baptist church as a teenager, and in my late twenties I spent time as a full member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). I am not just another "un-churched" heretic spewing blasphemy out of ignorance, though some may wish to interpret my views as such. My opinions have evolved over a lifetime of exposure and active searching for answers to more questions than I can recall. I can no longer identify myself as a Christian, primarily because I disagree with what mainstream Christianity has become – a childish cult littered with disingenuous charlatans propagating a garish corruption of the core values taught by the personality we refer to as Jesus Christ.

I've got no problem with Jesus or what he taught about how we should treat each other. My disagreement is with people and churches which claim to represent Jesus Christ while behaving contrary to the ideals the man advocated.

That’s not to say that there aren't any true "Christians" left in the  world; there are plenty, and I’m fortunate enough to know one or two. I even fathered one. True Christians not only understand the meaning of “do unto others” and being their brother’s keeper, but put those ideals into practice in their daily life.

So, what did Jesus say?

No one really knows what Jesus said; we weren't there so we've got to rely on preserved texts, translated, edited, translated again, and edited for "clarity" over and over for hundreds of years by men who may or may not have been inspired by the loftiest ideals, much less a supernatural being.

Jesus never forced anyone to give up or sell anything, but he made it perfectly clear that the endless pursuit of monetary gain and material possessions was antithetical to his philosophy.

From the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10: 21-25:  Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Jesus taught that his followers should strive only to attain enough wealth to meet their basic human needs and he strongly advised that all excess resources be used to help those less fortunate. He never said a rich man couldn't enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he did say it would be extremely difficult. Among the rich there are and always have been many who worship and serve money. The obsessive desire for and love of money and the power it offers is the root of man's greatest weakness:  greed.

Matthew 4:23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus can be found healing the sick and lame, befriending all comers, rich and poor, asking nothing in return and often breaking local laws in the process. By example he made it clear that acts of healing, love, and compassion should not be incumbent upon one’s ability to pay or their station in life.

Regarding what he taught about caring for the poor – what we would today call public welfare and social services – Jesus said care for the the poor, but he made no distinction about which poor should be helped and which left to suffer. The parable of the sheep and the goats found in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew makes it clear: all who have the means should contribute toward the care of the less fortunate among us.

31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 

40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 

44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 

45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 

46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

I can’t help wondering about all the people I've known who go into purple fits about how this country is supposed to be a Christian nation, yet the second anyone tries to pass a law that would put into practice what Jesus commanded, these same people start yelling about tyranny and socialism or being taxed to support “lazy people.”

Jesus said to love each other. When you get down to the elemental level of truth, those who call themselves Christians are hypocritical liars if they fail to live up to the simple admonition to love one another, or fail to support policies - public or private - that move civilization closer to the more equitable, peaceful, and just way of living Jesus taught.

Jesus Christ was a socialist. He advocated compassion toward all people and he was crystal clear about his position on excessive wealth. Do not strive to lay up treasure on Earth, he said, yet capitalism is the economic model most opposed to the principles he advocated. It is the most effective system of hoarding in history; and rewards greed and selfishness with unimaginable wealth and power. Those who insist on unregulated, unrestricted, unfettered capitalism cannot in good conscience claim to be disciples of Christ.
What Jesus taught and his early followers tried to practice was socialism. 

Not only was Jesus a socialist; the entire modern progressive agenda begins with the Sermon on the Mount.  Blind faith in the global capitalist system and support for imperialist wars of aggression can only be called un-Christian by any honest definition. 

If Jesus Christ were here today, I suspect she’d have some strong words and even tougher love for those who've co-opted his message of peace, unity, and love; especially those living like royalty at the top of mega-church franchises and televangelist “ministries.” 

The money changers back in biblical times got off easy.  Yes, Jesus Christ was a socialist, and if you call yourself an honest Christian, you’d best accept it and get with the program.

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