Jesus Was A Redistributionist

Jesus said unto him, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” Matthew 19:21

To be labeled a redistributionist in today’s political environment, a distinct pejorative among conservatives, all you have to do is to talk about sharing: finding some more equitable distribution of the resources available to us all for the common good. Jesus the Christ was a redistributionist. Of course, there is a promised transfer of a distinctly different sort of wealth to where God dwells and where we too can come if we simply follow him.

Ministers remind us that the early church, those believers who knew Jesus or heard of him through those that did, shared all they had. This makes the Christian church the kind of communistic operation that gives nightmares to the wealthy and well-connected. Most of us do not practice what he preached. That includes the author of this post. If we all found ways to share downward just a little more of what we have, however small, what an impact that would make. Sharing downward could become a real craze. People doing it all over the place. Giving to charities would soar.

But there is an even greater arena where this kind of sharing downward needs to occur. It is where the money really is. Large corporations might consider funding both the local symphony or some public tv station and add some direct charitable work with community organizations, churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and those charities that do most to directly aid the poor. All the great religious faiths have a component of giving.

Government too can concentrate more on aiding the least fortunate and less on giving advantage to those whose purses are already swollen. Jesus also said that it would be “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

This sharing downward is something much larger in conception than might be first thought. It is tough to get our heads around it. Let’s see if we can. Those of us who are employed in good jobs in the wealthier, developed nations, are rich men when compared to the teeming billions of people on the other side of the globe. There must be a sharing outward as well. We might even permit the poorest man or woman to give something they have for another. Giving to others feels good. It is a very contagious disease we all need to contract.

We all can return to school and learn to share. Then we all can be redistributionists and have the honor of being condemned for it like Jesus of Nazareth was. Find ways to give things you have: possessions you do not need but someone else may need desperately. Donate money when you can and even when you cannot. Give of your time to help others.

Our world must build wealth and resource highways to bring to the poor and oppressed all that they need. Those who are poorest in wealth and position might be richest in heart, soul, and kindness.


4 thoughts on “Jesus Was A Redistributionist

  1. Actually, you could say a truly progressive tax program, as this nation once had, is doing the work of Jesus. It’s why I don’t mind paying my share of taxes, as burdensome as it might be, but only as long as we all are fairly taxed.

  2. When the religious charities were allowed to do the work that has now come under control of the Federal government, people DID take care of each other. In fact, it would be MY assertion that the Federal govenment destroyed the notion of ‘charity’ to a great degree when it centralized ‘giving’. In the early days of our country, churches and communities took in and took care of those in need. In a book called “The Tragedy of American Compassion” you will read the evolution of your ‘redistributionist’ beliefs. You will see that when churches were allowed to share the word of God and a warm meal, and allowed to turn away those who were not worthy, people who needed help received it. It is only AFTER progressives pushed to centralize ‘charity’ by having it federally controlled, and the teaching of the Bible was stopped because that ‘charity’ was no longer church-based, that you can see the abuses of that ‘charity’ expand. I’m sure there have always been those who find it easier to survive off the hard work of others, and I’m sure there always will be. But by replacing the church and community with the government, you remove one of the most important gifts of charity. That gift is the experience of service to your neighbor. Today, in the age of welfare payments and AFDC, rent and heat assistance and the many other subsidies and ‘help’ the government provides, there are two perhaps unintended consequences that I can think of. The first is that those who work and pay taxes feel they have done their part because their tax dollars fund the government’s programs. They no longer feel compelled to give of their time, as they already feel they give their time by working for money that the government will just take anyway. The connection between people is lost, in many senses, because those who give do not know who they give to – and the government gives, but gives to case numbers and makes automatic deposits. Secondly, many who receive help from the government seem to have lost the understanding that it is the ‘evil’ people who have more wealth who in reality are providing for them. If people weren’t working hard and making money, where would this ‘charity’ the government hands out come from?? This has become the class warfare that we see today. Instead of those who need asistance being grateful and appreciative, we see many who believe they ‘deserve’ more and more. And because children learn by example, these families become generation after generation of dependants. Those who do not receive help see those who do with nice cars, spending money and seemingly no real sense of personal responsibility. Perhaps the notion of the ‘angry rich man’ is simply the frustration of knowing that what is given will never be enough.
    It is MY belief that only when charity is returned to community control will the anger and frustration abate. The abuses of the few who work the system tarnish those who use it as intended.
    My husband and I will never be rich, and that is because we believe that what we have is to be shared with others. But that is OUR choice and OUR belief. We do not force it on others. And THAT is where I believe your argument is incorrect. Jesus was not a redistributionist, but a believer in the worth of all people, regardless of their possessions. He did not advocate force to take from one and give to another. He did not even believe that all should have an equal amount of wealth. It is only when ‘wealth’ is measured by His standards, and not by what your neighbor has that we will thrive as a nation again. As long as we continue to FORCE those who take responsibility for themselves and their families to subsidize those who will not, we will never become ‘rich’, in any sense of the word.
    “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”
    2 Thessalonians 3:10

  3. Very good post. I just disagree with you. Private giving via churches continued well past the Progressive Era in American history and does so today. There is no legal obstacle to doing all the giving that you say was done formerly.

    It is just that the need is so great. Social Security, Medicare and Medicad would just be impossible if people did not come together via government to share resources and get them to the people who need them.

    Jesus preferred to offer more both materially and spiritually to the poor and the oppressed than he did the rich and well connected. He was a redistibutionist in every sense.

    We also live in a nation today where the state and the church are separate. This is well. I do not want my government running my church and dictating what my faith is. We have to recognize that people are taking many paths toward God and they are not all yours or mine.

    The two world wars of the twentieth century, the large role played by science in exploding what to many people seems like religious myth has so much more to do with any change that is written about or you perceive. Strangely and wonderfully, Americans remain among the most devout religious people on the planet and certainly when compared to Europe where faith has all but died in many western nations.

    Having everybody have exactly the same wealth is not the idea at all. But simply recognizing through the political process and government by consent of the governed in a Republic and a democracy that imbalances between those that have so much and those that do not may lead us to propose a more progressive tax system then we even have now or simply to call for our government to share the priorities the church has.

    That is not wrong. It is in addition to the customary work Christians and so many other faiths do on their own one-on-one with the poor, imprisoned and oppressed.

    People without a job or income and who have not had a good family life and have had a substandard education do need to labor. But the abuses you cite are nonexistent when a kid gets health care or someone gets fed or housed that would not be despite the charities.

  4. He was not born into a royal family, but He left a royal impression on the world.
    For 30 years, He learned the ways of the world without becoming of the world. He then changed the world for the better.
    He led without a mandate. He taught without a script. His common sense parables filled people with promise and compassion, His words forever inspiring.
    He never condemned what others believed – just sin, evil and corruption.
    He helped the poor without one government program. He healed the sick without a government health care system. He feed the hungry without food stamps. And everywhere He went, it turned into a rally, attracting large crowds, and giving them hope, encouragement and inspiration.
    For three years He was unemployed, and never collected an unemployment check. Nevertheless, he completed all the work He needed to get done. He didn’t travel by private jet. He walked and sailed, and sometimes traveled on a donkey.
    But they made Him walk when He was arrested and taken to jail, and no, He was not read any Miranda Rights. He was arrested for just being who He was and doing nothing wrong. And when they tried Him in court, He never said a mumbling word.
    He didn’t have a lawyer, nor did He care about who judged Him.
    His judge was a higher power.
    The liberal court found Him guilty of false offences and sentenced Him to death, all because He changed the hearts and minds of men with an army of 12.
    His death reset the clock of time.
    Never before and not since has there ever been such a perfect conservative.
    For over 2,000 years the world has tried hard to erase the memory of the perfect conservative, and His principles of compassion, caring and common sense.
    His followers are now millions and millions the world over, as those who resent Him have intensified their attacks on who He was and what His followers believe.
    The attacks are disguised as political correctness, or a misunderstanding of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Separation of Church and State does not mean Separation of Church from State. The State cannot impose Church on the people, but the people can display and say as much Church in the public square as they desire.
    Our Founders recognized that distinction, which helped to inspire the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the founding of this nation – The United States of America!

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