Christmas means many things to many people, but to practicing Christians it represents the celebration of the day that God sent His son to the world as a baby. Jesus Christ, through His crucifixion and his resurrection, would reconcile all those who believed in Him with God.
While salvation is not gained through works, the Bible is replete with exhortations to feed the poor and care for those in need, just one of these is found in 1 John 3:16-18 where the Apostle John writes, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
As we contemplate how we should live as followers of Christ, the great debate is between those who believe that they can outsource charity to the government and those who believe that it is their responsibility to help others in Christ’s name.
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This dilemma was expressed about six weeks ago by a Facebook post from a former member of a youth group that I led years ago. To paraphrase, this college student’s post, it asserted as an answer to those who asked how they could be both a socialist and a Christian by asking, “As a Christian, how can I not be a socialist in order to meet the needs of the poor?”
While I did not respond to the post which was shared by this young adult’s mother, as it would have been piling on, it was not lost on me that this is a shared concern by many who profess Christ.
A short answer is to affirm that socialism means a redistribution of wealth with the goal of equal wealth for all and point the Christian socialist to the Book of Exodus, Chapter 20 which gives the Ten Commandments. The Eighth Commandment found in verse 15 plainly states, “You shall not steal.” And the Tenth says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
The root of socialism is compulsory surrender of one’s property and possessions at the point of a gun. If a person selects someone to forcibly take their neighbors possessions under the auspices of being the government, they have merely hired henchmen to do their dirty work.
If someone looks at another who has wealth and imagines all the “good” that wealth could do if possessed by the government, this pretty clearly falls astray of the “Thou shall not covet” law set down by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai.
From this obvious perspective, using the government to take one person’s wealth to give it to others against their will clearly violates God’s Law.
Does this mean that taxes should not be paid? No, as Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And this gets to the heart of Christian charity. Disconnecting the Christian from the charity does nothing to build the Kingdom of God, and only feeds the body of the needy without feeding the soul.
To repeat what the Apostle John wrote, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” A Christian providing a coat to a child in need, let’s that child know that Jesus does love them. A Christian reaching out to help a person in trouble, let’s that person know that no matter the problem, there is a loving God in whom they can always rest and find comfort. A Christian offering shelter, heat for homes, medical assistance, food for the hungry, training for a job, or any other assistance puts Christ at the center of the help, rather than making government a substitute for God.
Socialism and Christianity are diametrically opposed for this exact reason. In socialism the fount of the feast is government which produces nothing but takes from those who do to give to those who it favors. Christianity demands that those of us who adhere to the teachings of Christ give help to those in need through the blessing God has given us.
We are not called to make the person in need of assistance today a slave of gratitude toward us tomorrow, but rather to allow them to see that all comes from God, and when we share our blessings, it is a recognition of that fact.
On this Christmas day, join me in thinking about how you can help those most in need and bring the love of Christ into their lives as a result. We can no longer allow those who outsource charity under the guise of socialism to an uncaring government to usurp the rightful role of Christians to provide charity under the banner of eternal hope that our Savior Jesus Christ offers all.
Richard Manning is President of Americans for Limited Government.
Cross-posted with The Daily Torch
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