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« The Christian and Social Problems  | Main | The Good Samaritan: A Liberal’s View »

Your Social Relationship: Jesus as Prime Minister

(This is the next chapter in the book Hand in Hand: Deepening Your Relationship with Jesus Christ.)

In the book of beginnings, we read, “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’” Genesis 2:18. Adam and Eve were fruitful, bearing sons and daughters (Genesis 5:4).  They filled the earth with families who eventually spread out over the land—extended, clannish and enculturated.  When Aristotle said, “Man is, by nature, a social animal,” he confirmed what God had put in motion: society.  Notwithstanding a few hermits, humankind works best in pairs, families, tribes, communities and nations.  At the same time, these social groupings also bring out the worst in humanity.  Violence, murder, rape, theft and the whole litany of social crimes result from people living in proximity to each other.  Society had to develop structure if it was to work.  Thus, out of necessity, civilization based on law and order, appeared. 

Kindness to all people is a hallmark of Christianity.  Much of the teaching expounded by Jesus concerned treatment of fellow human beings—love, forgiveness, peacemaking, mutual support, helping others—all of the social obligations empowered by the influence of the Spirit of God.  Our relationship with Jesus informs our relationship with others.  We need to understand these principles as they relate to our attitude and behavior towards other people. 

Respect for Others 

God instructed Israel to be kind to strangers.  You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Exodus 22:21. This statute represents a basic attitude of respect that believers were to have to other people, regardless of their background, ethnicity or religion.  Toleration of strangers prohibited racial prejudice, discrimination or abuse of any kind.  The New Testament continued with the same sensitivity.  Paul commended widows who were “Well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.” 1 Timothy 5:10.  The Scriptures reserved a special blessing for those who were kind to strangers.  Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels.  Hebrews 13:2. 

Followers of Christ must treat others with concern, dignity, and respect. The radical extremism, genocide, ethnic cleansing and other atrocities that we have witnessed in recent decades speaks of total barbarism.  Other crimes against humanity, such as abortion, euthanasia, slavery, human trafficking, kidnapping or human experimentation contradict fundamental Christianity.  Christians should reject and openly protest this kind of savagery.  All people need to feel safe around Christians.  Anyone who falls into the hands of believers should have no fear for their health or well-being.   

Love Your Neighbor 

Respect may guarantee that we will not harm others, but the practice of Christian values goes further.  We must proactively and intentionally help, support and love others as we have opportunity.  Jesus affirmed this practice when He said, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40.  When a lawyer asked Jesus to define neighbor, He told the parable of the Good Samaritan.  It would seem, then, that to love your neighbor involves more than refraining from harm, but to do deeds of kindness and care for his or her welfare.  

To love God is to love others.  In terms of Christian practice, the essence of it all is love.  It could not be clearer than John’s epistle.  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:7-11.
Love is the primary proof of a right relationship with God. 

Responsibility for Others 

Jesus mandated His disciples to help less fortunate people with works of benevolence.  Then the King will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” Matthew 25:34-36. And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25:40.

Most wealthy, populous nations today service the humanitarian needs of their citizenry, but, because of ignorance or logistics, not everyone can take advantage of the government’s largess.  The church needs to respond to the Master’s call and make sure that these people don’t fall through the cracks.  Moreover, believers must not assume that the government or the church are meeting the needs.  Each person, when faced with a situation in which he or she can help, should provide as much help as possible.  Individuals can’t do everything alone, but all of us can do something.  The cumulative result makes a difference in the lives of needy people. 

Social Responsibility 

A large part of social consciousness includes environmental and ecological concerns.  These issues define much of mainline Christianity’s reason-for-being in this modern era.  Over seventy-five international environmental protection organizations like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have been founded, and over twice that many groups exist in individual nations or regions.  Many denominations have partnered with these agencies, citing the responsibility we have to save the planet.  This movement is not without controversy.  Many questions have come up.  Should we not fully embrace measure to protect the earth? Is it not the Christian thing to do? Should we allow industrial concerns, corporate giants and rank-and-file consumerism to rape, pillage and plunder our natural resources? One would think it is a no-brainer. A few strategic questions, however, seem to me to be in order before jumping on the bandwagon. 

  • Who are the major players guiding the movement?
  • Are there any ulterior motives that we should know about?
  • Is the major impetus behind environmental causes a simple conservationist conscience, or do aberrant religious beliefs fuel the activities and philosophies of the adherents?
  • What are the ultimate goals of the green movement?
  • What will be the consequences on the economy, the freedom of the people and the standing of this nation in the world?
  • Will the goals of green make us vulnerable to our enemies?
  • Are the objectives of the green agenda to be followed and enforced internationally across the board, or is this nation expected to comply unilaterally? 

The political, military and economic aspects of the dangerous green movement do not threaten us nearly as much as its religious overtones. A religion drives the green agenda that rivals all other religions of the world. It is pagan, idolatrous and heretical. It stands for ideals diametrically opposed to Christianity. A Christian watchdog organization, “The Watchman’s Post,” says, “Anyone who has studied the global green movement has no doubt heard of “Gaia”. Believers in Gaia, or ‘Gaians’ as they often refer to themselves, claim that the earth is a sentient super-being, an ancient goddess spirit, deserving of worship and reverence. Sir James Lovelock, in his book Gaia: ‘A new look at Life’, states that “all of the lifeforms on this planet are a part of Gaia—part of one spirit goddess that sustains life on earth. Since this transformation into a living system the interventions of Gaia have brought about the evolving diversity of living creatures on planet Earth.” Gaians teach that the “Earth Goddess”, or Mother Earth, must be protected from destructive human activity. It is this belief that fuels the environmental movement, sustainable development, and a global push for the return of industrialized nations to a more primitive way of life.”  

The Bible teaches us to be good stewards, especially of perishable resources.  Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. Genesis 2:15.   Tending and keeping refer to cultivation and preservation of the land. Our responsibility toward the care of the earth means that we must not pollute, litter, plunder or otherwise abuse the magnificent planet that we have.  Yet, neither should we engage in idolatrous worship of the earth.  We can be good stewards without the misguided motivations or the hostility to humankind typical of the green movement.  


On the economic front of social consciousness, socialism continues to recycle its seductive message over and over.  The pleasant-sounding overtones voiced by socialism’s proponents, like fairness, equality, even distribution of wealth and erasure of social classes must not fool us.  The platform of the Socialist Party USA says, “Socialism is a new social and economic order in which workers and consumers control production and community residents control their neighborhoods, homes, and schools.  The production of society is used for the benefit of all humanity, not for the private profit of a few. Socialism produces a constantly renewed future by not plundering the resources of the earth.” The theory is utopian; the practice is disastrous.  Socialism, along with its twin sister, communism, has failed every time it has been tried.  Wherever it seems to be succeeding, you will find an oppressive, totalitarian government is necessary to keep it going.

The early church participated in a voluntary system of socialism (Acts 4:32) until it was able to establish itself as a stable, economic entity.  Eventually, it faded from use and people enjoyed economic freedom.  The system was never mandatory as evidenced by ownership of houses and private property (Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2), business owners, and an appeal for disciples to give in tithes and offerings according to their ability.   Income equality did not exist.  On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. 1 Corinthians 16:2. 

The arguments against socialism would take us beyond the scope of this book, but those who have an interest in researching this economic system need to proceed with caution.  Socialist will use specious reasoning to advance their cause.  Equivocation, stacking-the-deck, appeal to authority, ad hominem attacks, straw men, side-stepping and red herring tactics, taken together, make their case sound impressive.  Under scrutiny, however, it all falls apart.  The Scriptural position is individual responsibility, voluntary compassion, private ownership, rewarded effort and economic freedom.  That is the position we see practiced in the New Testament church and the one that affords each person the dignity and liberty to fulfill his or her own dream.

Ironically, the socialists and communists who denigrate capitalism become de facto capitalists when they ascend to power.  They may not personally own the assets, but they exercise total control over how those assets are used.  Christians who sympathize with socialist causes have no scriptural foundation for their views.  True respect for humanity is not expressed in a forced, contrived sameness, but in freedom to develop one’s own God-given talents and abilities.  Our relationship to Christ encourages each person to soar as high as possible, and to reap the benefits of one’s own efforts. 

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