Corner on Christ!

Dave Marlow

 

Some of you out there have probably played the card game Pit before. In the game, 3-7 players deal out cards with commodities on them (wheat, barley, coffee, etc.) and you trade them at a fast pace. Your goal is to get a full hand of one commodity first and then yell "Corner on ______", there by winning the round.

Right-wingers and Republicans love to wear this phrase on their chests in regards to Jesus Christ and Christianity. It's gotten to be a time-honored tradition that conservatives see themselves as the Christ-like, moral individuals and leftists as promiscuous, pot-smoking hippies. Because the right seems to have claimed Christ's words for their cause without much of an opposition, Jesus is often looked down on in the left community, especially in the socialist spectrum. After all, there has been a lot of evil done in the name of Christ.

I wish to offer a counter-balance to this argument that has gone unchallenged for far too long. First, let's look at why conservatives claim Christ's cause for their own. It really boils down to three issues...
 

There are indeed other issues but these are without a doubt the main ones. And it bugs me because although the Bible does say that any sin is just as bad as another, these seem like issues that don't affect people on a large scale. For instance, how often do you see homosexuals trying to force others to follow their lifestyle? How often do you see abortion doctors bombing Pro-Life rallies? How often do you see Christians being oppressed by the general public? These just aren't cutting edge issues, especially in the troubled times America is facing in the 21st century.

I have always supported the idea that Christ preached, at it's core, a socialist and leftist message. For instance, in modern society which do you think Jesus would be more involved in: The war in Iraq or the war on poverty? Ending progressive taxes on the rich or ending American sweatshops in Asia? Protesting gay marriage or protesting genocide in Darfur? I'll let you be the judge.

After looking through the Bible, I have come to a number of conclusions about the character of Christ. I'm not in any way trying to force my beliefs down your throat. Even if you are not a follower of Christ, you should at least be able to put whatever baggage you have aside and respect his message, because it is inherently loving as well as inherently socialist.

First in the Old Testament (prior to Christ) we see that the Bible is very supportive of the proletariat in Ecclesiastes 5: 8-12.
 

(8) If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still.
(9) The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.
(10) Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.
(12) The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether he eats little or much, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep...

-Ecclesiastes 5: 8-12

 

Right off we see that God respects people who do honest work and opposes those who exploit. God also recognizes, like Marx did, that the bourgeois have existed in every society since the beginning and their exploitation of good workers is a social evil. For instance, the officials who stand over the workers are not talked about in a positive way at all.

In Matthew 25, Jesus paints a picture for his disciples on how to love others. Take a look at who he brings up...
 

 

(34) "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
(35) For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
(36) I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
(37) "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
(38) When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
(39) When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?
(40) "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"

-Matthew 25: 34-40.

 

Jesus is commanding all people to care for one another, especially the poor, the sick, and the hungry. These are the people who need to be given the most aid. Christ even goes a step further and identifies himself with the poor and destitute by saying "Hey, if you help these people out, it's like helping me out." This passage goes on to talk about those who don't help the groups listed here, probably implying the rich, and detailing just how wrong it is not to help your brothers and sisters in need. This is the very nature of the socialist message and Jesus was spreading it 2000 years ago!

Probably the most compelling evidence I have seen regarding a parallel between Christianity and socialism is how the disciples lived with each other, as well as other Christians after Christ ascended into Heaven. The book of Acts goes into this in great detail.

 

(44) All the believers were together and had everything in common.
(45) Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
(46)
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts...

-Acts 2: 44-46

(32) All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.
(33)
With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.
(34)
There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales
(35)
and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.
(36)Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement),
(37)sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet.

-Acts 4: 32-37

 

If this isn't Marx's vision put into play, I don't know what it. Jesus calls his followers to be caring, giving, and generous. The disciples took this to heart and lived in a pre-Marx socialist society for a time. I love Acts 4: 32 when it says "No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own..." It's that sort of communal identity and selflessness that has always been the end goal of any socialist and Marxist and clearly is the end goal of the followers of Christ also.

Christ said many other things, not only to his disciples but also to the others that followed his teachings. There is the commonly quoted "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12: 28-31) which He lists as the second greatest commandment (the first being to follow God). Too often the conservatives who tout Christ as explicitly theirs forget this. Pat Robertson is one, calling for the assassination of Hugo Chavez. How about the "Christians" who bomb abortion clinics? How much more hypocritical can you get? Many socialists are the ones keeping Christ's commandments, whether they are intending to do so or not.

Let me say that I do still adamantly believe in the doctrines of separation of church and state. We see how bad governments can get when religion gets in the mix all of the time (Iran as a current example). However, keeping them separate doesn't mean completely ignoring religion either. Christ is a figure who, whether you believe he was humanity's saviour or not, is often not given the credence His message deserves.

I will leave you all with this quote from a very famous socialist comrade who is really fighting the good fight down in South America in his effort to help the poor and oppressed...
 

"He [Jesus] accompanied me in difficult times, in crucial moments. So Jesus Christ is no doubt a historical figure� he was someone who rebelled, an anti-imperialist guy. He confronted the Roman Empire. Because who might think that Jesus was a capitalist? No. Judas was the capitalist, for taking the coins! Christ was a revolutionary. He confronted the religious hierarchies. He confronted the economic power of the time. He preferred death in the defence of his humanistic ideals, who fostered change. He is our Jesus Christ."

-Hugo Chavez

 

 

Related Posts: Jesus Christ the Renegade

You can read Dave's blog here
 

August 2006

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