“What Would Jesus Cut?”... really? Today's post is in *"Sunday Sermonette" form.
*This is a private blog, and does not necessarily always reflect the views of the Lehigh Valley Project 9/12 Tea Party Group. For more about the nature of this blog please read "What is this?"
Today's message will be on current events. Back in May the current event message was about a prediction of an impending scheduled “End of the World” scenario that a radio preacher had proclaimed. Well, we're still here and ready to endure another end time event, though this one is an expected financial melt down of man's own making. It's the end of the world... again.
In a recent political magazine there was a full page ad that declared in large bold print “God is Watching – The moral measure of any budget is how it treats the poor”. It was placed there by group that calls itself Biblical and Christian with an ecumenical spirit. Earlier in the year they placed a similar ad emblazoned with the slogan “What Would Jesus Cut?” and they even promoted the wearing of “What Would Jesus Cut” bracelets. They are part of a coalition of church groups calling themselves the “Circle of Protection” which holds prayer vigils and fasts while lobbying our representatives in Washington DC.
Not to be outdone there is a counter group, also ecumenical, that bills itself as a Judeo-Christian think tank. If you read their core principle statements you will find their mission acknowledges the sinfulness of Man and the necessity of God ordained government to maintain the rule of law. From their site:
The ubiquity of sin, however, requires that the state be limited in its power and jurisdiction. The persistent reality of sin requires that we be skeptical of all utopian "solutions" to social ills such as poverty and injustice.
So we have these vocal, popular, worldly representatives of the Church just as divided over the proper role and extent of government and how that's reflected in the budget as our politicians are. And both groups will point to what the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans, chapter 13:
1 Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. 3 For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; 4 for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.
The first group will point to the phrase that refers to the civil authorities as a “minister of God” and then read Isaiah chapter 10, where woe is proclaimed on a nation that deprives the needy and plunders it's orphans. And every verse that references caring for the poor comes into play also.
The second group will point out that Romans speaks to the worldly authority's job of restraining evil, not promoting poverty programs. And caring for the poor is a commandment to individuals, not governments. They will remind us of what the prophet Samuel said about desiring a strong king, that he will take and take from everyone until eventually as we read in 1 Samuel, chapter 8:
How people and governments have responded to this distinction has taken many different turns in the millennia following Christ's illustration of it. You see, it's not whether to help the poor, but how should they be helped. I'm not going to answer that question for you, I'm sure you already have some opinion on it.
The most cogent statement I've heard on this whole matter is one that I happened to hear by chance, if there really is such a thing as chance. Driving home from work on Friday I was listening to a Jewish talk show host on the radio making a brief comment on the idea going round that slashing the budget it “not Christian”. He simply said that to be Christian is to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and then began to reference the creeds and beliefs of the early church. His point being that believing one thing or another about the federal budget has little to nothing to do with being “Christian”.
And he's right.
And it's also not the end of the world, just yet...