Then he looked up at his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” – Luke, 20-21
I have a cousin who is a born-again Christian. I haven’t seen her in years, but she is, of course, on Facebook. Recently, I came across one of her status updates, compelling the OWS protesters to “occupy a job,” and poking fun at the mass arrests. Now, this sentiment doesn’t seem particularly Jesus-like to me, but then again, I am entirely confused by contemporary interpretations of the New Testament.
I’m also fascinated by the shift from the social gospel and its emphasis on community and cooperation to the me-first, “Jesus-as-life-coach” culture of modern evangelicals. And I’m scared shitless by their political influence. (There is some great literature on the subject, including a book I’ve recommended before, The Family, by Jeff Sharlet.)
Even more mind-boggling to me is that another Facebook acquaintance, a self-professed LaVeyan Satanist, made a comment on my wall in defense of my cousin’s initial statement. He used five economical words: “She’s right. Deal with it.” Then he proceeded to unfriend me.
Isn’t it interesting that the contemporary evangelical movement espouses the same moral perspective as a religion whose express purpose is to eliminate Christianity? Both groups owe a tremendous amount to Ayn Rand, and preach individuality above self-sacrifice. That’s fine for Satanists, as their beliefs reflect no internal contradictions. But how does any of this jive with the Gospel of Christ?
Clearly, it doesn’t.
The Jesus of the Bible railed against money-lenders and “redistributed” loaves and fish to the hungry. He tended to the needy and sick. Moreover, he encouraged others to do the same.
Compare that to the sweeping push by those aligned with the evangelical movement to eliminate social programs meant to aid our society’s most needy. These are the same folks who loudly and proudly tout their so-called “Christian values” and claim a moral high ground.
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.” – Mark, 10:21-25
Let’s see here… Jesus instructed his disciples to redistribute their personal, material wealth to the poor as a key means to entering the Kingdom of God. It’s right there in the Bible. I hope I don’t need to mention that Jesus freely healed the sick with no regard to “pre-existing conditions” like leprosy.
These teachings were carried on by the disciples after Jesus’ crucifixion. It would be amazing if the Christians of today were to take them to heart instead of celebrating the suppression of speech and liberty.
My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? – James, 2:1-7
To me, the more frustrating thing than the outright hypocrisy is the unwillingness to engage in even moderate self-reflection. No need to account for your actions, no reason to adjust your personal behavior to be more in line with the articles of your supposed faith. The act of becoming “born-again” simply guarantees your place at the Lord’s table. I can see why this belief system is attractive, as it requires practically zero effort. But it is absolutely not in keeping with Jesus’ actual teachings.
And anyone who tells you otherwise is deluded or disingenuous.
Look, I have some sympathies with the OWS movement. I certainly think that my cousin’s statement is ignorant, and that there are hundreds of reasons why people in an economic depression (when one in 16 are below the poverty line, that’s what it is) may want to publicly demonstrate their dissatisfaction with wealth inequality in the United States. But this isn’t about my political views. It’s about the tendency of the modern evangelical movement to mask their disgust for their brothers and sisters behind a veneer of faith.
I don’t care if you happen to be related to me. I’m calling bullshit.