Arrogance: Blaming your ideas on Jesus
Did Jesus have politics?
What I think is an odd trend is for folks to ask: "What would Jesus do about…?" Some reach the point of silliness and usually assume that Jesus will go along with their political views. That I find to be rather arrogant.
One of the oddest questions is “what kind of car would Jesus drive?” If they got an answer, I suspect it would not be the answer they were fishing for. The inference is the Lord would drive whatever kind of car they approve of. I wont try to speak for God but to judge from his life as described in the New Testament I suspect he would be fairly practical in terms of the use of material things Assuming he would be pursuing the same kind of work he did to make a living as he did in the Bible he would be in the building trades. Now what kind of vehicle would a carpenter or mason drive? My guess is a pick-up truck or a van of some sort to accommodate tools and supplies.
I just saw a nun on television claiming that Jesus would support government medical plans. My understanding of the Bible is that Jesus did not get involved with politics. He said that we should leave the business of government (Caesar) to the government. Did Jesus consider health care the business of government? Certainly the founding fathers would not have done so. The nun claimed that the Bible calls for us to look out for our neighbors, but does that mean the government. I think the Bible calls for us to look out for our neighbors; I don’t see that they meant government i.e., Ceasar should do it. Possibly the church should, which has largely been the case in the past.
You may not remember the phrase “let George do it”. It meant that people instead of taking responsibility for things such as social action would say, “let George do it.” The Actor Danny Thomas, who established the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, when he was alive, often supported the “Christopher’s.” They were a non-denominational a religious organization based on the idea of getting good people involved in various public activities. He did this as an actor by playing in their stories. In one such play he appeared as a Al Capone type character who chomped on a cigar and introduced himself by saying “Hello, I’m George.” The message was to get out and do things that need doing— let George do it.
I don’t think that nun had it right The church used to do the good works of running hospitals along with church related organizations, such as Knights of Columbus or Lutheran Brotherhood who were established to provide insurance for people who did not have access to it at one time.
Jesus and humility
If the government takes over and we let “George do it” it will want religious hospitals that oppose abortion to provide abortions or go out of business. A problem that Catholic charities has already faced.
Another nun, one I remember from grade school told us that the church would never accept federal aid to education because than the government would tell them what to do. She was wrong about not accepting Federal aid, but I’m afraid she was right about the results. Do we think that the same won’t be true of health care, as well as other programs where government overreaches its mandate?
The Bible is often used as justification for welfare type programs, I think because the early Christians sometimes lived in small groups and shared possession. However, what resulted is that some people didn’t want to do any work. The communities decided that if you didn’t work, you wouldn’t eat.
I recall the words of Thomas Merton shortly before he died. He said that his experience shows that communism only works in small groups. I think Jesusunderstood that government should stick to what government justly has a right to do. One of these is to establish a constitution. Another is to limit the federal government to do only those things that cannot be done otherwise.
At the same time the churches should not be too involved in the business of secular and government entities. The people in Jesus time wanted him to be a political leader. Although he was technically crucified as a political (and church) traitor—the real motive, I believe was his refusal to do the political thing on both fronts.
For those who feel Christianity supports a collective answer to economic problems I recommend the following book: The Church and the Market, A Catholic defense of the free economy. By Thomas E. Woods, Jr. I think there is much of interest in the book even for those who are not Catholic.
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