Indulge me if I wander over to the slightly political side of things this time, but something has been bothering me for a while.
In many views of our world there is white, off white, shades of gray, from one end of that spectrum to the other, and there is pitch black. I’m certainly not an artist, nor have I had the slightest bit of education in art since my first grade teacher, Mrs. Baldwin, handed us a sheet of paper with a circle divided into three equal sections and told us to color those pie shapes red, yellow and blue. They are the basic elements of all colors, natural and manmade. I’ve been told that black is not a color, that it’s an absence of light. So, okay that would lead me to assume that shades of gray could be considered varying degrees of a lack of light. Stay with me here.
In politics, there seems to be a similar variation in beliefs and those beliefs all involve degrees of control; how much control are we willing to give up. Within Christianity there are similar variations in the level of control we are willing to give up. It could be argued that the more of our lives we submit to Christ the closer we get to pure light … a one hundred eighty degree difference from black.
If we follow that line of thought far enough, we discover that virtually every facet of our lives is affected by the degree of control (freedom) we’re willing to give up in order to experience a sense of security. The degree of security is basically a measure of how much or how little we worry. How much freedom, for instance, we are willing to give up in our daily lives, determines to a degree, the job we hold. Likewise, our personal relationships with our spouses in particular, are affected by the amount of control and/or freedom we are willing to surrender to the other person.
In jobs, marriages, in virtually all other relationships, we are capable of reclaiming whatever control we have willingly given up. We can walk away from our spouse, from our job, from our faith, from family, from friendships. We can even walk away from a relationship with God, but there is one relationship we cannot walk away from; the relationship we have with our government.
My reading of the original intent of our founders is that their newly won freedom was, beyond a doubt, the most precious thing in their lives, and they wanted it protected in perpetuity. I’ve never read anything that specifically speaks to my realization of what has happened since, but then I’ve never read anything that would contradict it either.
The founders understood the basic nature of a portion of mankind that would never be satisfied with that degree of freedom because it would mean they would have no control over others. That desire to control others is basic to entirely too many people. To aid and abet them in their aims are a significant number of people who are willing to give up a large degree of their freedoms to the people who claim be acting in the peoples best interest.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, am I? Of course not. So, why am I off on this seemingly wild train of thought? I’m usually talking about gender topics or topics of faith. This is leading to an issue of faith and that issue is the different ways, we as Christians view the role of our government.
I realize that many, well-meaning Christians will vote for socialistic candidates and programs under the premise that sharing the wealth is the Christian thing to do. But, is it? I’m nearing the end of my sixth complete read through of the bible, and the closest I can come to an endorsement of socialism is the communal sharing of wealth and assets, engaged in by the earliest Christians in Jerusalem, and a few other enclaves of The Way. The thing that’s misinterpreted here, in my opinion, is the voluntary nature of the sharing. Nowhere do I read that it was a specific requirement. It’s simply reported as a voluntary participation.
The one instance of someone being punished for withholding a portion of their assets is the one involving Ananias and Sapphira recorded in the fifth chapter of Acts. The issue wasn’t that they withheld a portion of their assets; it was that they lied about it. Sounds a bit like the results of lying to the IRS doesn’t it. They don’t care how much you make; just don’t lie to them about.
If one wants to refer to Christ’s statement in Matthew 22:21 “Give unto Caesar that which is Caesars … “ as proof that whatever exorbitant taxes are levied by the government are justified and proper, they are ignoring the fact that it was the only time He said anything like that. It has occurred to me that it would be nice if I could go fishing every April 15th and hook a fish with check for the IRS in its mouth. If one attempts to justify the exorbitant taxes we pay today by referring to Christ’s repeated instructions to the wealthy to sell what they owned and give it to the poor they are missing the point entirely. Christ only encouraged voluntary sharing. The voluntary nature of Christian sharing is what makes it the Christian thing to do. It magnifies the Christian heart and soul.
When a vote is cast today for a candidate who says he’s going to level the playing field by taking from those who have, and give to those who don’t, that vote, however well intentioned, flies in the face of everything Christ and all the prophets taught. There is nothing in the bible which says that if one chooses not to share his wealth then “Caesar” should step in and force a Christian act by taking from those who have and giving to those who don’t.
If we let the government do all the giving, all the sharing, making all the decisions about who gives how much to who and when, that robs us of our responsibility to honor the commandments. I’ve come to believe that there is a sense of personal absolution for many, from responsibility to care for the less fortunate since the government is assuming that responsibility. There’s that sticky little issue of how much the “tax collectors” siphon off before the remainder is doled out and who is actually deserving. But then, maybe a lot of people want absolution from a responsibility to make decisions about what causes or people are deserving. And that responsibility is all too eagerly accepted by today’s “temple guards”, “high priests”, “Pharisees” and “Roman masters;” all in the name of moral economic justice, which of course has never existed in the history of mankind … and never will … regardless of the shade of gray.
Just askin’ … Where is it written?