Disclaimer: I am not into politics myself but I am into clearing up misconceptions about my Lord. This was one that just continuously caught my eye.
JESUS WAS A SOCIALIST!!!! JESUS WAS A LIBERAL!!!!! HE WANTS US TO TAKE CARE OF THE POOR, THE WIDOWS, THE FATHERLESS, THE MOTHERLESS, THE ABANDONED, etc etc etc.
I’m not sure how many times I’ve heard this argument that Jesus was all about taking care of the less fortunate. I suppose I would agree. Was not His entire mission in coming to Earth about “helping out the less fortunate?” The less fortunate could be summed up in one word. Sinners. Sure, Christ came to save sinners; to die on a cross for all of mankind. But, let’s look into the Bible a litter deeper to see what His “political” stance was.
Let’s start in the OT. Yes, I know, a big scary collection of laws and rules for the nation of Israel. But the God of the NT is no different from the God of the OT. In Malachi 3:6 we read “For I am the LORD, I change not.” I think that is pretty clear and we can all agree on that. So what can we learn from the OT?
For the tithe of the people of Israel, which they present as a contribution to the Lord, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance. Therefore I have said of them that they shall have no inheritance among the people of Israel.
Deuteronomy 14:28, 29
At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.
What do we see here? We see the nation of Israel taking care of its own people. The Levites were not given an inheritance when the division of the land of Canaan was given. The tribe of the Levites was separated to the service of the sanctuary and the Lord was their inheritance (Deuteronomy 10:9). But were they just freeloading off the rest of the nation? Waiting in their tents till that Friday came around and they would receive their check? No, the Levites were hard at work. I would venture to say they were not given a division of land because the work of the priests was never done! So the tithes that the rest of the nation gave were used to take care of their own people. We also see that every third year they would tithe their produce and invite all people that were within their towns to come and enjoy what God had blessed them with. It’s obvious then, that God is a socialist, right?
This would be one of the three ways I see in scripture that God gives as acceptable means to take care of the poor. I would label this as “through the Church.” In the NT, until the rapture, the Church is the main focus and where God is working through. In the OT, the nation of Israel was the main focus and where God was working (and will continue after the rapture of the Church). There were three tithes required (based on 1/10ths of incomes) which included:
- Support of the Priests (Deut. 14:27, Lev 27:30-34, Num. 18:24-26)
- Finance of the religious feasts (Deut. 14:22-26)
- Support of the needy every three years (Deut. 14:28-29)
These were not government run coercions to produce equality and spread the wealth but God designed to take care of His people. The main reason for the tithes was to pay for the cost of the feasts and provide for the priests. Every three years they would hold a feast for the needy among them which would only show them the mercy and love of God. The tithe to support the needy wasn’t a requirement of money but of food. Interesting. I guess we could see here that God is in favor of a “flat tax” system as well haha. It didn’t matter how much money you had, the tithe was still 10%. Why? To support the work of God. Even in the OT, there was no free gifts. Look at the law of gleanings (you can see it in action in the story of Ruth and Boaz). When a farmer harvested his crops, he was not to go back over his field a second time to gather anything that was missed the first round but was to allow the poor to come and pick up what was left behind for their families. There was always work involved when it came to aid to the needy. Doesn’t sound too much like the socialist/liberal view to me. Look at what Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” But, there is a place for the Church to take care of some of the financial burdens of the Church and to provide charity to those that need it. What guidelines do we have in the NT for that? Again let’s look at Paul’s writings. 1 Timothy 5 gives us some good insight as to “how far” the Church should even go. Verse 9 puts an age restriction on it, and verses 4 and 16 tell us the family is the first support and only if there is no other support should the Church step in. Verse 10 tells us that they should have a good reputation and dedicated years of service. Paul tells Timothy to deny younger women from getting help from the Church. Some serious restrictions. This isn’t because Paul was a woman hater but because it was not the Church’s duty to provide help as some sort of charity to anyone and everyone. That was never God’s plan. Yes, the Church should help out in the local community but only when it is something that God would deem as worthy.
What about the other two methods of “welfare?” Well, we touched on one above in 1 Timothy 5:3-16. The family. If you notice verse 8 says “But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Strong! We have an obligation to make sure people in our family are taken care of. Obviously, I think the same restrictions apply. I am not going to pour money into a family member who is going and spending it on alcohol and drugs. But I could pay for rehab, provide food and shelter (as long as it doesn’t endanger my family), etc. These are things that we should be more than willing to do for our family. OUR FAMILY. Got that?
What is the last one then? Individual charity. Matthew 6:1-4 says:
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
What is the point? If you have a burden to care for the needy and you are able then do so but, do so on your own and in secret. Don’t herald to all around about what you are doing and giving. At no point does Christ ever mention a method whereby the government should control what you give and redistribute the wealth. That is the goal of liberalism and socialism.
I am not saying Christ is a conservative. God is God. If anything, He is apolitical and will reign in an absolute theocracy. If you look at the list of evil things in Mark 7:20-23 we see Christ declaring both greed and envy as evil. The list isn’t partial either way. The greed of the poor man is just as evil as the greed of the rich man and the envy of the rich man is just as evil as the envy of the poor man. The Bible gives us three methods of taking care of the needy and none mention allowing the government to do so. Personal responsibility, family responsibility, and Church responsibility should all be carried out within the confines of God’s character. Christ didn’t go around throwing His salvation at every person He walked past. Nor should we go around throwing our money to every person we walk past and it definitely shouldn’t be done by the government. All this nonsense about Christ being a liberal/socialist has got to stop. He is God and that is final! Do not apply titles to Christ that He does not claim. His mission was Calvary not welfare.