What would Jesus do if he were the President of the United States?
Would he feed the hungry? Would he clothe the naked? House the poor? Would he heal the sick? Would he invest in the stock market? Would he pick and choose who we should help and who should be refused aid?
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 ideals being love, charity, healing, and forgiveness. The whole divinity, Son of God, salvation aspect of Christianity, while accepted by most Christians, is irrelevant to this essay. This is about what Jesus taught regarding how we should live together compared with what most of his modern disciples preach.
Among the thousands of people railing against every progressive idea coming out of the White House and Congress are a large percentage of self-described Christians. I meet people every day who label themselves Christians and who are worried sick that the Obama administration is conspiring to turn the United States into a socialist nation. If these issues weren't of such great importance to our collective future it would almost be comical.
Full disclosure: I no longer identify myself as a Christian, primarily because I disagree with what mainstream Christianity has become today - a childish, disingenuous cult of self perpetuating ignorance reflecting little of the core values taught by Jesus Christ. My family attended a Methodist Church when I was a young child, 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 unchurched heretic spewing blasphemy out of ignorance, though some may interpret my views as such. My opinions have evolved over a lifetime of exposure and active searching for Truth.
I've got no problem with Jesus or what he taught about how we should treat each other. My disagreement is with the majority of churches claiming to represent Jesus Christ while NOT supporting the ideals the man advocated. Nearly every Christian denomination I've ever seen fails miserably, usually in their preaching or acceptance of intolerance, divisiveness, or exclusion on some level. Hypocrisy is unacceptable. Period.
That's not to say that there aren't any true Christians left in the world. To the contrary, there are plenty of them around and I'm fortunate enough to know one or two. 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. They are the light of the world.
What did Jesus say?
No one really knows what Jesus Christ said, we weren't there so we've got to rely on ancient texts, translated, edited, translated again, and edited some more over hundreds of years by men who may or may not have been inspired by the loftiest ideals.
Jesus never forced anyone to give away or sell their belongings, the choice was left to the individual, but he made it 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. The rich worship and serve money; and the love of money is the root of all evil. One cannot serve two masters.
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, the rich and the poor, asking nothing in return and often breaking local laws in the process. By example he made it clear that the act of healing 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 give to 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 quite clear. Jesus meant that 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. 32All 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. 33He 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. 35For 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, 36I 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? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When 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. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I 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."
Whenever I read this parable, I can't help thinking 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 socialism or being taxed to support "lazy bums." These same people, given half a chance, would be first in line to establish a theocracy in the United States, as long as it fit their own narrow definition of "righteousness."
Jesus told us to love God and love each other. When you get down to the elemental level of truth, those who call themselves Christians are just common 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 our society closer to the more equitable, peaceful, civilized way of living Jesus sought.
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 amounted to what we now call socialism. Not only was Jesus a socialist, the entire modern progressive agenda begins with the Sermon on the Mount.
Those who refuse to accept the fact that Jesus Christ was a progressive, a liberal, and a socialist are either in denial of what the Gospels say, or they are hopelessly ignorant; content to be misled by the charlatans whom their tithes support. Study the Gospels and you will have no honest choice but to conclude that Jesus Christ was a radical liberal in his deeds and ideas.
Blind faith in the global capitalist economy, actively working against civil rights for all, and support for wars of aggression can only be called anti-Christ by any rational observer. If Jesus Christ showed up here today, I suspect he'd have strong words and even tougher love for those who've co-opted his message of peace, unity, and brotherly 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.
Jesus was a socialist, and if you call yourself a Christian, you'd best accept it.