Jesus the Socialist Hippie?
This past weekend I had the privilege of seeing this photo on the internet:
I say “privilege” with all the sarcasm you can possibly fathom. There are so many false assumptions being made in this short statement that it is hard to know where to begin. Perhaps I should just roll my eyes and forget about it. But no, this is a very misguided statement that requires a serious response.
Liberals like to use biblical admonitions to take care of the poor as justification for government-run healthcare, but a logical leap of this magnitude never sets foot on solid ground. Jesus certainly does give away free healthcare and he commands his followers to do the same:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” – Luke 4:18
“Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.” – Luke 7:22
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” – Matthew 19:21
“They will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” – Matthew 25:37-40
“…when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” – Luke 14:13
None of these verses prove what the liberal wants to prove. For starters, the healthcare that Jesus gives away is his own. The eternal Son of God heals by his own life-giving power and blood. This is completely reversed with government-run healthcare. The government has no life-giving power on its own. It must necessarily take from someone else, by force, to provide its services. The way of Christ is one of mercy and self-sacrifice; the way of socialism is theft and coercion.
Secondly, Jesus gives the responsibility of taking care of the poor to individuals within the Church. Does Jesus say, “Sell what you have and give it to the government, so that the government can give it to the poor”? Does Jesus say, “Let the government take your property away from you so that they can provide for the needy”? No! Jesus wants his people to be people of charity, people who bring healing to their communities in the spirit of mercy and self-sacrifice. The early Christians followed Christ’s example by giving tithes and offerings to take care of themselves and the community (Acts 2:44-45; Acts 4:32-35). They didn’t lobby the Roman Empire to pass welfare legislation.
I believe most liberals have good intentions in wanting the government to provide healthcare, but that doesn’t mean it’s a legitimate method. Ignoring the needs of others is wrong, but forcing charity is wrong as well. Doing the right thing in the wrong way is never right.
So, is Jesus a socialist hippie? Far from it. Jesus is our great high priest, through whom we find healing and rest. In him, every Christian is a priest (1 Peter 2:9) and we share the responsibility of sacrificial service to our communities. The Church is supposed to be the institution that cares for the sick, clothes the naked and feeds the hungry – not Washington, DC.
by Adam McIntosh