Tag Archives: religion

Jesus, Government, the Rich and the Poor

Sometimes on Twitter, one sees interesting things, such as this tweet from RexHuppke.

My favorite part of the Bible is where Jesus gives money to the rich, tells the poor to suck it up and asks for Caesar’s birth certificate.

I had to reply to this by saying,

My favorite part of the Bible is where Jesus said pay more taxes to Rome and let them redistribute it. ^_~

Now, just to be clear, Rex appears to be posting tongue-in-cheek here as he tweets comedy stuff but there are people who do have a similar belief about Christ, the poor, and government.

Christ spoke about people being charitable and giving to the poor but he NEVER spoke of having Rome (the government) come in, tax or otherwise take massive amounts of money from the rich, then redistribute it to the poor.  Such an act has no meaning.  Indeed, when it comes to the poor, Christ indicated that the poor will always be around, as seen in these passages from Matthew and Mark.

6 And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. 8 But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” 10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. 11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. 12 For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. 13 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” Matthew 26:6-13

3 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. 4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” Mark 14:3-9

In the Gospel of John, he doesn’t beat about the bush on who decried the expenditure of a luxury item on Christ as a waste of money that could have been given to the poor, nor does John hesitate to say WHY there was this “concern” for the poor.

1 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. 4 Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. 7 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. 8 For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.” John 12:1-8

This passage is how I see politicians and political activist who supposedly care about the poor.  I include union bosses who supposedly care about the working man in this as well.  They don’t really care about the poor, they just want the money and power that goes with it.  Big Government types want to tax the heck out of people for programs for the poor but naturally the poor only get a pittance as Big Government takes its cut all along the way with bureaucracies, red tape, and whatever else that eats of massive amounts of taken money.  These politicians also make sure to reward those who donate to their re-election campaigns, to the general election campaigns of their political party, and who otherwise support them and the “correct” causes.

That’s how General Electric can get away with not paying a dime in taxes — crony capitalism.  G.E. and its head make massive political donations to the President and his party and in return, Government policies are geared to help G.E. get rich on so called “green” technologies while at the same time, G.E.’s head is an adviser to the President.  Nice, isn’t it?  Imagine the outcry if this had been George Bush doing this kind of crap.

I feel the same way about unions.  While there’s no doubt that many CEO’s and corporate executives “rape” their employees, union bosses do the same thing as far as I’m concerned.  The difference is that there’s no doubt when the corporate boss is raping you.  The union boss thinks that just because he gives you the common courtesy of a reach-around, you’ll be fooled into thinking that he cares about you and thus this isn’t rape.  Sorry, rape is rape whether you give a reach-around, use Vaseline, or even throw some dollars my way. (Sorry to be so frank there, but sometimes its best not to beat around the bush.)

You know, I don’t give a crap about how much a rich person makes and I’m not rich or anywhere close to it.  I only care about getting paid what I’m worth, which in today’s horrible economy isn’t easy to do.  As such, in 2009, I earned 60% less money than I did in 2008 as I got laid off and had to settle for whatever I could get to pay the bills.  Last year, my income rose by about 10%, mainly due to me working a ton of overtime.  I’m still looking for a new, better job that will pay me what I’m worth and I have an interview this week in that regard.

My point is that the government taking more money from the rich doesn’t help me at all, even though my income isn’t all that great.  I already know the richest Americans pay the bulk of the income tax burden in the country while half the country pays zero income tax (I don’t qualify because I don’t have a house full of kids or the like to get money redistributed my way). I know there are tons of small business people who file their taxes on their personal income tax who are vilified as “rich” because they may take in $250,000+ in revenue even though their personal take is only a fraction of that (meaning they aren’t rich).

The government spending itself into bankruptcy is not good for the country nor for the people in it such as myself. I don’t want Big Brother standing over me. telling me how much money is too much; I don’t want Big Brother standing over me, telling me what foods I should eat, what clothes I should where, what things I should read, what programs I should watch, or anything else with my personal life. 

Christ, in His ministry on Earth, never once spoke of how the rich need to pay more taxes.  He never once spoke of how Rome needed to take care of the people better nor how the specific rulers of Israel needed to do the same with more social programs.  Instead, Christ preached that man could not save themselves and that the only way to be saved was through Christ and his death and resurrection.  Christ did viciously attack the religious leaders of the day, who did get rich off of the people and loved the power, riches, and praises over God.  They redefined the laws God had established to suit their own ends, much as many politicians in American continuously attempt to redefine the Constitution to meet their own ends.

Finally, when it comes to the rich and the poor and taking care of that which is important to us, I think of these passages from the Bible.

41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. 42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. 43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” Mark 12:41-44

1 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2 and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3 So He said, “Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4 for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had.” Luke 21:1-4

This is an amazing account because this widow wasn’t forced to give her money. She loved God so much, she gave it all to Him willingly and thus Christ notes it.  She wasn’t protesting lack programs for the poor and certainly there would have been nothing wrong with her taking her tiny amount of money and using it for her personal needs.  Instead, she gave it away.  If only I loved the Lord that much. 

I’ve rambled a bunch and probably said nothing.  Nevertheless, I hope everyone has a good Easter and remembers that for those of us who believe, Christ is risen and our sins (which are too many to count) are forgiven by Him and Him alone.  ^_^

Somebody’s Knocking At the Door

You know what the great thing about being inside my place of residence? I don’t have to answer the phone and I don’t have to answer the door. Truly, it is a great thing.

I mention this because a little while ago, I was sitting in my office goofing off on some anime-related message boards when to my amazement I hear my door knocker being used. No one, and I mean no one, comes calling at my place unless I know about it ahead of time. So if someone is swinging by for a visit, or if I have a package on route for delivery, I know about it and will answer the door.

Still, we’ve been programmed from our youth that when there’s a knock on the door or the doorbell rings, we got to go answer it no matter what. Why is that?

Seriously, who’s going to be knocking on my door on a Sunday evening? Jehovah’s Witnesses? Mormon’s? I suppose that might be, but seeing as how their “God” isn’t the one I read about in the Bible, I’d rather not talk with them. Maybe that’s the wrong thing to say, but I go on past experiences where if you let ’em in, they will try to overwhelm you if possible. It isn’t possible since I’m in God’s hands, but still I just feel that getting into an argument over doctrine doesn’t really help the Gospel, does it?

It could have been someone looking for “John” or “Mary” or “Wanita” or “Takahashi-kun.” Man, I’ve had plenty of those kinds of knocks in the past. The person doing the knocking always looks surprised to see someone they weren’t expecting and more often than not, suspicious that the person they want is really inside somewhere. Sorry mate, just me, myself, and I here.

Maybe it was someone wanting me to move my car for whatever reason. That’s happened before where someone is moving into the complex and wants the primo-spot for their moving truck. That’s certainly an understandable desire, but then I don’t see any moving trucks out there.

Of course, it may have been someone needing help. After the first knocking on the door, ten minutes later, there was more knocking, followed by some mild pounding on the door. Yeah, all the lights in the apartment are on, but I’m not getting up to answer the door, buddy.

One thing I miss about my apartment in Denver was the fact that the door was on the ground level even though I had a 2nd-floor apartment. That meant that the stairs to get to my place were actually in my apartment, making it seem bigger than it was. The benefit of this arrangement is that I could peek down from my upstairs window to see who the smeg was ringing my doorbell without them even knowing it. So my curiosity of seeing this person who dared attempt to gain access to my domicile was satiated. With my current apartment, I’d have to creep up to the door and peek out the peep-hole viewer, which would likely be detected on the part of the person outside the door.

So, I sat and eventually the smegger went away. Yay!

Still, as I write, I wonder if I shouldn’t just answer the door as I’ve been trained to do. I wonder if I’m unique in this aversion I have to answering the door when I’m not expecting company.

My Adoptive Grandparents

Back in the late 70’s, my family were members of a GARB (General Association of Regular Baptists) Baptist Church in Tallahassee, FL. I don’t know much about that organization beyond the fact that they tend to be Arminian in belief structure (at least the ones I’m familiar with are). Our pastor, Donald Shawback, became convinced that the Doctrines of Sovereign Grace were in fact what Christ and the apostles preached in the New Testament. Because the church didn’t agree with Pastor’s new-found views, he elected to step down rather than cause a fuss.

My parents were interested in what Pastor had to say, and so from that time until 1980 when we moved to Geneva, AL, every Sunday and Sunday evening saw us have services in the Shawback’s living room. Since they were 20-years older than my parents, they were already like grandparents to us, though we didn’t address them as such until several years later.

After moving to Geneva, the Shawback’s came to visit from time to time. They introduced us to a Bible Study with some army aviators from Ft. Rucker. They also introduced us to sermons from Henry Mahan. OK, I wasn’t so keen on those as a teenager, but today, I really enjoy hearing them.

As the years went on, my life took me far, far away from not only my parents, but any actual contact with the Shawback’s beyond letters and a phone call here or there. That said, the impact they had on me was profound. I don’t know at what point in time I began addressing them as “Grandma Shawback” and “Grandpa Shawback,” but I’m sure it was about the same time my parents began addressing them as “Mom” and “Dad.” They meant that much to us that they were our adoptive parents/grandparents (indeed, Grandpa Shawback was instrumental in getting me through Panic Disorder when it first hit me in 1995).

Today, I got to see them for the first time in maybe 15 or more years. Both are simply amazing at 79 years of age (Grandpa Shawback will be 80 in two months)! They are very active and Grandpa Shawback is still so strong and can make his biceps “jump” at his command. He still travels all over the U.S. and the world and while he hasn’t been a pastor since we left Tallahassee, he has been very involved in supporting missionaries. Indeed, as a skilled interior decorator, he has used his skills to help missionaries he’s visited by upgrading their homes with better kitchens, baths, etc. And he’s even preached in other places with the assistance of translators.

We watched a lot of video (my mom converting their old tapes to DVD) and I was simply amazed. Here Grandpa Shawback is working just about as hard as he’s ever worked and loving the life the Lord has given him. Meanwhile, here I am so bloody lazy, it is pathetic. ^_^;;;

As such, I feel a renewed sense of getting things done. That means working on losing weight (I’m already in a supervised exercise class) and generally getting things done that need getting done. It won’t all get fixed overnight, but Lord willing, I will succeed and be better for it. I think I’ll use this blog to help track my progress, especially on the weight.

Christmas

It is Christmas time. Christmas is an official U.S. Federal holidy. Most folks get Christmas off. Most folks celebrate Christmas even if they aren’t Christian. So why is Christmas such a bad word these days?

Most people would be stunned if I told them that Christmas really isn’t a Christian holiday. Let’s face it, Christmas is not something the Bible says Christians are to celebrate. Remembering Christ’s death is the closest thing to a celebration officially commanded (the Lord’s Table/Communion, however you call it). Beyond that, the birth of Christ is less important in the Bible than the work and death of Christ.

Further, most of the traditions of Christmas have their roots in pagan customs or other non-Christian things. However, Christians justified themselves by going out of their way to somehow link these things to the Bible. OK, fine. For the sake of this discussion, I’m not going into those areas, but I did want to point out how non-Christian Christmas really is.

That said, Christmas is a holiday we all know. As children, there is no better day than Christmas day. Even if you were poor, most kids got something because their parents loved them. So there are lots of great things about Christmas and I have a lot of happy memories of Christmas.

So why is it that some folks want to remove the term Christmas from our lives?

Obviously, the see the word “Christ” and they freak out. After all, if Christ is the son of God as I and others believe, then in some respects, it means that there IS right and wrong. There are those who don’t like the idea of a right and wrong with no shades of gray. Also, there are those who believe that the term ‘separation of church and state’ is in the constitution, when in fact, the constitution only states the following:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The focus of the 1st amendment is limiting the power of congress. Congress can’t pass a law that says, “Hey! Christianity is the religion of the US!” nor can they pass a law that says, “Hey! Christianity promotes hatred, bigotry, etc., thus it is banned!” Beyond limiting Congress to keep them from promoting a religion, destroying a religion, keeping people from speaking, shutting up the press, or keeping people who want to peaceably assemble, the first amendment does nothing.

So when did ‘separation of church and state’ come into this? Actually, Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase in 1802 while addressing a Baptist congregation by letter. Jefferson was not a Baptist and he wanted to assure the Baptist that the state would not interfere with the Baptist church. The Baptist were free to practice their religion without fear of the government stopping them. And how would the government (ie: the state) stop them? Congress could pass laws. The first amendment clearly prohibits congress from doing this.

For those who fear anything remotely Christian, the phrase “separation of church and state” is a battle cry. It allows them to ignore what the 1st amendment actually says, and changes the ‘state’ from being Congress (who creates and passes our laws) to anything that is even remotely connected to the government. Further, instead of just limiting what the government can do, they now can limit the expression of religion. That’s why there were no Christian themed floats allowed in Denver CO’s 2004 Parade of Lights.

So we have this knee-jerked fear of the word “Christmas” and anything associated with it, regardless of how truly Christian it is or not. So why does this nation filled with so-called Christians have a problem with “Christmas” when a nation filled with non-Christians doesn’t?

Japan has less than 1% of its population who consider themselves Christian. Despite this, Christmas is a HUGE thing in Japan. While they don’t take Christmas off as we do in the U.S. (they take three days off around the new year), they do put out the Christmas lights, put up the Christmas trees, break out the “Santa-san”, and make the Christmas “kay-key” (which is how the Japanese say “cake”). They do exchange gifts (though not to the extent that we do in the U.S.) and even believe that Christmas eve is the time for romance. So young men and women may confess their love to the object of their desires because the miracle of Christmas will make everything right (see the anime “Love Hina: Christmas Special” to get a great understanding of this aspect).

Granted, the Japanese have different laws and stuff, but how can this non-Christian nation embrace this so-called Christian holiday with no problems? A great many of them know it has something to do with Christianity and Christ (many even know it is supposed to be about the birth of Christ), but it doesn’t seem to bother their own Shinto (Japan’s official religion) or Buddhist beliefs. And yet in the U.S., there is a strong belief that it will bother other people’s beliefs. I guess those folks must not have much faith.

Personally, I do not celebrate Christmas as a Christian anything. As a time for lights, trees, presents, and family I do celebrate, but since Christ was never really part of Christmas, I see no reason to make up a religious reason to celebrate. Still, the holiday is called Christmas and I don’t think it should change just because some weak minded folks are afraid of the term.

And so, I’ll end this by wishing all of you a very non-politically correct Merry Christmas! ^_^