Welcome to this instalment of the series, The Church and Politics. If you’ve not been following the series please go to www.myilluminare.com/the-church-and-politics/ to read the last eleven instalments.
It’s not unusual for Christians intending to participate in politics to get conflicted about the position of the Bible on policy matters for the modern state. That confliction can portend danger to the Christian faith since an ignorant Christian in power has the potential to turn people against the faith. He’ll damage opportunities for aspirant Christians.
Some wrongly believe the Bible advocates socialism as an economic philosophy. This is biblically unsupportable. The Bible encourages individual ownership of means of production as well as enterprise. The wrong notion is probably drawn from certain stories in the Bible, one being Jesus telling a rich guy to sell all he had and donate proceeds to the poor; and some point to the communalism practised by the early church. Mark 10:17-27, Acts 4:32-37.
However, we must be careful not to turn Jesus’ particular instruction to a man who loved money more than God into an omnibus decree on assets. No other rich man was commanded by Jesus to sell his assets. Jesus highlighted the falsity of his assertion that he loved the Lord with all his heart and soul with the sell order. It wasn’t a malicious sell order. The Bible says Jesus loved him. Jesus then went on to lecture about the danger of putting faith in money. It is an impediment to salvation and rich men are particularly prone to the malaise. It’s a camel through the eye of the needle situation. Mark 10: 23-25. The man clearly loved money more than God despite the contrary avowal. He wasn’t obeying the commandment to love the Lord above all as he postured he did. It is instructive Jesus never asked Zacchaeus, another rich dude to dispose of his assets. Zacchaeus was that diminutive crooked tax agent in Luke 19. In fact, it was Zacchaeus who offered to do restitution on his ill-gotten wealth, Jesus never asked him to. Luke 19:8. Restitution is not a prerequisite for salvation. Salvation is not conditional. It’s by grace. Ephesians 2:8. But Zacchaeus offered to do what the other rich dude could not do. He demonstrated love for God using the restitution model.
The principle Jesus was enunciating actually came from Psalms: “Don’t make your living by extortion or put your hope in stealing. And if your wealth increases, don’t make it the centre of your life.” Psalms 62:10 NLT. “Do not trust in what you can gain by oppression! Do not put false confidence in what you can gain by robbery! If wealth increases, do not become attached to it!” Psalms 62:10 NET. Jesus wasn’t anti-wealth. His organisation was financed by some very wealthy women – “Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s manager; and Susanna – along with many others who used their considerable means to provide for the company.” Luke 8:1-3 MSG. But in the early days of the church poverty was a major issue, and it was particularly pronounced in the Jerusalem church. Paul took relief offerings for the church in Jerusalem. 2 Corinthians 8:1-8.
And so the story of believers selling assets to donate money to the church in Acts 4 was actually in respect of the poverty alleviation programme of the church: “There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.” Acts 4:34-35 NLT. The rich kept their assets. Unfortunately, Ananias and Sapphira lost their lives in the false asset declaration to the Holy Spirit scandal. As Peter said to Ananias, “How did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field? Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished.” Acts 5:3-4 MSG.
At the heart of Christian economic philosophy therefore is concern for the poor. God is very particular about the socially disadvantaged. No government policy excluding them can be right before God: “Father of orphans, champion of widows, is God in his holy house. God makes homes for the homeless, leads prisoners to freedom, but leaves rebels to rot in hell.” Psalm 68:5-6 MSG.
Therefore government must be sensitive and compassionate. This aligns with God’s policy ideals. Society must care about social justice. The idea of an uncaring and unfeeling government is not God’s ideal, therefore. It’s always about the people. Jesus fed the people, healed the people, died for them. It has to be about the people. But it is evident from the parable of talents that God believes in capitalism. The parable of talents is a venture capital case study.
There are seven dimensions of God in scriptures – seven dynamics.
The first manifestation of God is God the Scientist. That’s the first impression we get from Genesis – God the creator-scientist, a genius.
In 2 Kings we come across the second dimension of God – God the military commander. He’s brutal in this mode: “And it so happened that that very night an angel of God – pre-incarnate Christ in theophany, came and massacred 185,000 Assyrians. When the people of Jerusalem got up next morning, there it was – a whole camp of corpses!” 2 Kings 19:35 MSG.
In Psalm 23 we come across the third dimension of God in scriptures – God the Compassionate. He’s the good God whose mercies fail not. He protects, forgives, feeds us, and clothes us: “Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalms 23:6 NLT. It is this revelation of God everyone is familiar with. But that’s not the only revelation of God in scriptures. It is one of the seven revelations.
In Exodus 20 we see the manifestation of the fourth dimension of God – God the Legislator. In this mode, he’s the moral law giver.
In Revelation we come across the fifth dimension of God in scriptures – God the Judge: “I saw a Great White Throne and the One Enthroned. Nothing could stand before or against the Presence, nothing in Heaven, nothing on earth. And then I saw all the dead, great and small, standing there – before the Throne! And books were opened. Then another book was opened: the Book of Life. The dead were judged by what was written in the books, by the way they had lived. Sea released its dead, Death and Hell turned in their dead. Each man and woman was judged by the way he or she had lived. Then Death and Hell were hurled into Lake Fire. This is the second death – Lake Fire. Anyone whose name was not found inscribed in the Book of Life was hurled into Lake Fire.” Revelation 20:11-15 MSG.
In Psalm 47 we come across the sixth dimension of God in scriptures – God the Monarch/Executive Branch: “God reigns above the nations, sitting on his holy throne. The rulers of the world have gathered together with the people of the God of Abraham. For all the kings of the earth belong to God. He is highly honoured everywhere.” Psalms 47:8-9 NLT.
And in the parable of talents, we come across the seventh dimension of God in scriptures, God the Businessman/Venture Capitalist. This God essentially deals in finance. Matthew 25:14-30.
The inherent economic progression of God commanding man to be fruitful and multiply is capitalism. There’s the biological dimension but there’s the economic dimension too. Genesis 1:22. The state must therefore encourage enterprise, provide a conducive operating environment for the multiplication of capital.
But the capitalist must be compassionate towards the socially disadvantaged. This is not brutal capitalism we’re talking about. That has no place in God’s scheme. It is compassionate, kind, feeling and sensitive. Call it beneficent capitalism. This economic philosophy is what guided the tithe regime under the laws of Moses: “Every third year you must offer a special tithe of your crops. In this year of the special tithe, you must give your tithes to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, so that they will have enough to eat in your towns.” Deuteronomy 26:12 NLT.
The Christian president must therefore put in place policies that will encourage the multiplication of wealth yet institute programmes that ameliorate the suffering of the masses. There must be social justice in society. Without social justice, society is imperilled. Safety and security will be compromised. There’s all that lesson from history.
We continue the series next week. To read the full version of The Church and Politics Part 12: Christian economic philosophy, please go to www.myilluminare.com/the-church-and-politics/.
If you’ll like to receive Jesus into your life please pray this prayer: “Father I acknowledge that I am a sinner, that Jesus died for me, that you raised him from the dead. Father, please forgive me. I accept Jesus today as my Lord and my Saviour. Amen.”
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