Was Jesus a Socialist?

“I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.” -Jesus (John 15:15)

The other night while in Washington, I had the good fortune of grabbing some tasty Mexican food with my brother.  While downing our fair share of chips and salsa, he began sharing about how he had seen someone wearing a t-shirt that said, “Jesus is a Socialist”….probably not a rare occasion here in the Pacific Northwest.  But this sentiment….is it accurate?  Does it have any real validity?

Let’s take a look….

The first thing we can look at is the philosophy of Socialism, which is a nutshell is, “What’s yours is mine.”  Historically this was enforced through coercion and threats of, if not actual acts of violence.  One of the most famous Socialist leaders, Joseph Stalin is said to be responsible for the deaths of between 20-25 million people.  Mao Zedong also a Socialist, can be classified as the largest mass murderer in history.  It is said that he is  responsible for 45 million deaths.

Now let’s take a look at Jesus.

The foundation of His message is “What’s Mine is yours.”  He came to seek and save the lost (see Luke 19:10).  He is responsible for the salvation of millions of people and the deaths of…well, nobody.  While he did encourage the rich man to sell everything he owned and give it to the poor, it was not under threat of violence.  Remember what the scripture says…

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Cor. 9:6-7

Without a doubt, God wants His people to be involved in charity and taking care of those that society often forgets.  However, He wants it to be done from the right heart and with the right intentions.

“We love because He first loved us.”  1 John 4:19

It is absolutely critical that the followers of The Way give and help the less fortunate.  It is in fact, evidence of our redemption in Christ…evidence of our very salvation….

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!  But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?  Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?  And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it wasaccounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.James 2:14-26

Forced sharing of resources versus the fruits of the Spirit found in a generous giver.  One brings pain, suffering and death and the other brings freedom.  The conclusion is obvious and self evident.  Jesus was far from sharing Socialist ideals and those that would say otherwise are either naive or ignorant of both Jesus’ character and Scripture itself.

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron”  Psalm 107:13-16

God bless, friends.

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Uncivilized

“The worst thing that happened to you, that can happen to any fighter:  you got civilized.”  Mickey (Rocky 3)

“Radical!”  Growing up in the 1980’s, this was the goal.  To shake up and be one step ahead of the status quo (whatever it happened to be that week).  To be and do “rad” things was the end goal of….well, pretty much everything.  Like most tweens/teenagers, we were looking for our own way.  We saw our ideas as unique.  We embraced the wild side of Motley Crue and Public Enemy tunes.  Even as white kid I looked up to MLK, Jr. and at times, Malcolm X.  Whoever the authority figure was, we wanted to go the opposite direction and do it with attitude.  We wouldn’t be stopped.

Fast forward a few decades.  Nowadays “radical” is often a word used to describe terrorists or those you would never want to be associated with.  Pop culture has a manufactured and artificial sense to it.  We’re not getting young songwriters and poets coming up on their own and “making it”.  Instead we have talking heads placed in front of us to program the general population towards an agenda.  Major news networks are often so brazen in this delivery, it is more than obvious to anyone who has any sense of discernment.

“On the road today, I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac….” Don Henley

As we grow through our teenage years and into our 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and beyond, what happens to most of us?  I’ll tell you what happens.  We become civilized.  Instead of pushing and grinding towards the goals and passions that extend outside of ourselves, we get really, really comfortable.  Our sharp edges round out.  All those years of marketing take root under the illusion of “that” will bring satisfaction….and entwine us like serpents.  Our pursuits become purely self serving.  We embrace “safe” religion and comfortable “popular” churches with all of the amenities, where “everyone goes.”  We want to hear that Jesus loves us but want to ignore the fact that in that love, God wants to break us down and build us back into the long-suffering image of Jesus Himself, holy in all that He does.  When there are troubled kids (or adults) in the church, we might not outwardly shun them but we steer clear of acknowledging their presence.  “Those kids” aren’t good for our kids so we think that “they” shouldn’t be around our precious babies (sarcasm: on).   I believe that it’s this exact attitude and hypocrisy, more than anything else, turns people away from the church’s doors before they ever set foot inside.

This may be a surprise for some….Jesus was a radical.  I don’t mean he was left leaning or right leaning politically.  His message was filled with radical often times furious love for humanity.  Jesus was a fierce warrior and He battled with the devil himself (read about His temptations in the desert or during His passion).  John the Baptist was an outcast and a radical.  The apostle Paul was a radical.  The prophets that foretold His coming….all radicals.  If someone is looking for a safe, water colored religion….true Christ following, Christ emulating, Christianity would never fit that bill.  If you find yourself in a church like that…where it’s more self-help than Jesus….you need to find another church.  If you’re willing to offer prayers but not your resources (time, treasure and talents), you my friend, are missing the boat.  Now to be fair, I am writing this blog in a moment when frankly, I’m pretty disappointed with humanity.  It happens, right?  People let us down.  Let me explain….

I had almost 2,000 hits and 250+ post engagements on a petition to help a family in desperate need of financial help.  People offered prayers (which is important) but out of all of those post interactions….I can count on one hand, those that stepped out to do anything of any practical significance.  So many had the opportunity to be an answer to the very prayer they were praying…and didn’t follow through.  There are plenty of big talkers out there but where were they?  Maybe they were too busy arguing their theological points of why Calvinism is superior to Arminianism….  Soft, fatty, fast food faith….dead faith.  I’m calling out all of us that claim to be Christ followers!  If we’re not going to shine in those situations…if we are going to be passive, sit on the fence and wait for someone else to do it…what kind of disciples are we?  We need to repent.  We have become civilized in the worst possible way.  We should sit on the ground, throw dirt over our heads and tear our garments like Jewish leaders would do when they recognized how they had missed what God had set before them!

Jesus was radical in His love and compassion.  If we follow Him, it’s not an option, we follow His example.  We NEED to be and do the same.  When we see a need we don’t just offer our stinkin’ “thoughts and prayers” in a social media post.  We ACT in faith!  We LOVE in faith!  We RESPOND in faith!  If we sacrificially give in a time of need, won’t God provide for us?  Your answer to this question is a direct reflection on how big you think your God is.

“Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.”  Psalm 41:1 

“If there is among you a poor man of you brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs.  You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand.”  Portions of Deuteronomy 15

Strip away your “civilized” religion and once again embrace the “radical” part  of your faith….

“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”  Revelation 2:4

Wake up, believers.  This is your call to step up.