The Gospel from last Monday was one of the more well-known but arguably one of the most misquoted and misunderstood too. It was Matthew Chapter 19 verses 16 – 22 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+19%3A16-22&version=NIV). It is the story of a man asking Jesus what he must do to possess eternal life and Jesus replied saying you must keep the Ten Commandments. The man replies saying I have kept all of these, what else do I need to do? Jesus replies, “If you wish to be perfect, go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me”. When the man heard this, he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.
This gospel is one of the most quoted by the left for the basis of government formed Socialism and Communism but they are wrong. I have seen many read this gospel and say, “See, even Jesus was a socialist”….. OMG really… that’s the message you get from that gospel????
I believe this Gospel is extremely important for Christians, not only because it is important we know how to argue against “Jesus is a socialist” line, but also because it has some great information that is extremely relevant today.
So was Jesus a socialist? Before you can ask this question, you first need to understand the basis of Socialism, Marxism, Statism or progressivism – they all have one thing in common. They all revere centralised government and insist that the state knows best and needs to be in control of everything. You will notice from the gospel, Jesus did not say give the money to government and let them distribute as they saw fit. NO, Jesus told the man to give the money to the poor personally.
However the message here is a lot deeper. The message is not that Jesus was a socialist and that he wants us to give up our belongings and be poor. WRONG. Jesus does not want us to be poor and living on the street. He wants us to be happy. For this to happen the message we have to take on board is that we must realise our time on this earth is limited, and that material objects are no good in heaven and most importantly that God must come BEFORE everything else.
If you believed the socialists argument, you might think Jesus would despise anyone who drove a Ferrari or had a private jet. Whether we know it or not we all have valuable possessions regardless of wealth. It could be your fancy car, your fancy phone, your holidays, or even something simple like your I-pod. Regardless of how much or little you have, Jesus should always be number one. That is why this man walked away sad, because Jesus was not his number one.
This man felt if he lived his life in a certain way, he would get eternal life. However the only way to enter eternal life is to have God as your number one and nothing else AT ALL TIMES. A person aiming to become rich and successful who forgets GOD is just as bad as that rich man putting money ahead of God. You can have a great life with money and success, once you always remember your mortality and keep God at number one.
God will judge each and every one of us on our Judgement day. God is our judge, jury and executioner. And that is the second and most important reason I can safely say Jesus was not a socialist. To the Socialist, Communist, progressive and Statism, the state is their God. Today the state acts and thinks like it’s their job to be the great equaliser, it is their job to make things right, to shape the world how they see fit and we now have lines from the left saying “equality of results, not equality of opportunity”. It is one thing that these people speak down to the individual because they think they know best for society, but an entirely different aspect for them to think they know better than God and can do better than him.
This belief in government over God is also the basis of the line currently being spread of “how can you love your country and not your government”. They are many reasons against this but America was founded on Judea / Christian beliefs and today’s government does not follow those same beliefs.
There is one more important message in this gospel which is vitally important for this time. We can never stop doing enough for our fellow man. Even if you spent every minute of every day helping your fellow man out, you can still do more. I see so many individuals (myself included) where we give money to different charities, where we spend time working for churches and charities helping out special causes, and the amount of times I hear people say, “that’s my bit done”; “I am only a volunteer, what more can I do” or “I am only one person, what can I do”. This gospel spells out clearly, you can always do more. This man told Jesus he follows all the commandments (which are extremely important in our faith) and Jesus still asked him to do more. We are all God’s Children and we need to look out for each other and do what we can. This help is not always about money. There are many aspects of help that money cannot fix – speaking to your elderly neighbour, reaching out the hand of friendship to someone new in your church, making someone welcome in your home, giving someone a lift home in the rain. We can always do more, and we must try to reach out to our fellow man because as Ronald Reagan once said “There is no left or right, there is only an up or down”. Which path do you choose?