I wrote an article a couple of years ago about whether Jesus would be a Republican or a Democrat. I got a few comments about that, even though I ended the article with no conclusion one way or the other. In truth, Jesus never expressed much interest in politics other than saying our leaders are given their right to govern by God. I don’t believe he has much regard for either party. Recently, I saw a question posted on a Christian web site which asked what Jesus would do regarding the health care debate. One reply to the question stated that Jesus was pretty much a socialist.
I have seen many people make that claim over the years, but I have to disagree. There is this utopian mindset among some on the left that socialism is this ideal thing where you help your fellow man and everyone is happy. Unfortunately, if you take a look at most nations who have ever attempted socialism — from the national socialists of Germany to the communists of the former Soviet Union, China, or Cuba — you find a rather repressive society. However, I am not trying to focus on the human rights aspect of socialism. This is a spiritual matter.
That being said, there are a lot of good Christians who may disagree with my premise that socialism is a sin.
Being Rich is not a sin
Many people point to the parable of Lazarus and the rich man as a sign that wealth is a sin. They may also point to the story of the young rich King who asked Christ how to be saved and the reply about it being easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter Heaven. These people forget a few things. Nowhere does it say that it is any easier for a poor man to enter the Kingdom. These are lessons about greed and personal sacrifice. You see, Jesus was all about personal commitment.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus says “when I was hungry, you fed me.” That passage goes on longer, but the point can be made just with that one piece. Who does Jesus say fed him? The answer is YOU. In no translation of the Bible does he say “when I was hungry, you passed a law and took food from your neighbor and gave it to me.” Everything in the gospel of Christ is about personal responsibility. I believe the Christian community is becoming complacent. You can be liberal and Christian without falling victim to the socialist lie. By the same token, you can be conservative and Christian without believing everyone else is going to hell. I don’t believe either side of the political spectrum has cornered the market on good will. We should all want to help our fellow man, but passing the buck off to a secular government to do it for us is spiritual mediocrity.
God is your Source
God promises you abundance. If you have faith, he will meet your needs and overwhelm you with blessings. In that sense, socialism is a spiritual void. It is no accident that faith was shunned by political leaders in socialist nations and it is not coincidence that Marx, Lenin, and the creators of socialism were atheists. In a very real sense, in a socialistic society, government replaces faith as it tries to provide you with the bare necessities. It seeks to be your source, but government cannot provide you abundance.
The danger in this spiritual void is that socialism breeds a generation of people who do not rely on God as their source. Even more to the point, socialism nurtures the mentality of lack. It creates the notion that you do not deserve more, that you are not blessed, and that you cannot manifest abundance. There is a reason Cuba forbids its citizens from riding on boats. People don’t risk their lives trying to escape from utopias.
Spreading the Lie
When people can no longer manifest abundance in their lives through faith, socialism creates a society with no middle class. When no middle class exists, the barrier between the rich and the poor is more pronounced. It is true that one of the side effects of abundance is greed. That was the lesson in the parables of Jesus regarding wealth. However, if you share your blessings, you need not be ashamed of them. On the other hand, the side effects of poverty are covetousness, envy, and jealousy. This is not to say that all poor people sin in this way because all people are equally sinful in one way or another. Socialism fertilizes these sinful thoughts about our fellow man because it teaches that anyone who has prosperity or abundance has somehow wronged those who do not. What’s more, it seeks to take from the blessed and give to those who have not believed in their own blessings. Again, I am talking about the poor class under socialism, not all people in need. Jesus said the poor would always be among us. This is why we are to give cheerfully and without compulsion (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Capitalism versus Socialism
Capitalism has its own faults. Certainly, as people become financially comfortable they can become complacent or even, at worst, greedy. However, capitalism offers freedom and, as Ben Franklin said, a person who gives up freedom for security deserves neither. Socialism provides for some basic benefits, no doubt, but at what cost? We are spiritual people and we have to look at things from that point of view. In the Gospel of John, Jesus told the crowd that he was speaking of spiritual things and offering spiritual answers. Two sentences later, it says, most of the people stopped following him that day. People do not always consider the big picture when it comes to political decisions. In that verse, people were looking for immediate gratification – just like people today. They wanted someone to give them a sandwich, not someone to teach them to bake bread.
That being said, when you see someone who is hungry. Feed them. What you do to them, you do to Jesus. However, it is important that you feed them from your blessings. Don’t push it off on your neighbor, society, or the government. Faith without works is dead faith. Also, when you feed the poor, don’t do it for recognition or publicity – God knows your heart.
We cannot shirk our responsibilities as a community of faith and pass the buck along to government. Government cannot save souls. If we are seeking to provide health care for the poor, take the initiative. Volunteer at a clinic, give to a homeless shelter, lobby your congressman. There is nothing inherently wrong with looking for better solutions. The problem arises, in the faith perspective, when people place their faith in their fellow man. God is a God of abundance, as I keep saying. Socialism, aside from the utopian idealism, is a void where people no longer expect blessings or prosperity. It makes a god of lack.
A long time ago, I spoke to a group of friends on this subject. What if we built health care cooperatives along the same model as credit unions? People in a given community or profession could band together and share (willingly) their supply by investing in a health care credit union to purchase insurance for all members. I am not the right person to work out the details, but I believe that is infinitely better than a system of envy and covetousness.
People of faith of all political persuasions — listen. Your blessings already exist. We have to teach people to accept them. Jesus was apolitical for a reason. There can be a new way of doing things and a spiritual awakening in the world. This awakening is not the result of an election, legislation, or even a political leader. Acting on faith is personal.