Sunday, October 12, 2008

WWJE... Yes, I'm Going There!

This is something I had to write. I was working on about five separate blogs, and couldn’t really tie down what I wanted to say for any of them. Then my wife came to me one night and said, “you need to write a blog about Who Would Jesus Elect… I don’t have the details, but I just know you need to write it. As soon as she said it, I knew that it was exactly where I had been going, and would tie together many of my loose concepts. It bothers both of us that we profess to be a Christian country, and our politicians talk about Christian values; yet so much of what we hear on Sundays in church contradicts what the politicians say before church on Meet the Press. So taking what I got from the pews, the Bible, and some conversations with my Lord and Savior, Here are the platforms for the candidates I believe Jesus would elect.

Education - Jesus went to synagogue every day. He went to teach and He went to listen, so He was into lifelong learning. He started His ministry by saying that education should not be just for the elite, but the common Jew. He ended His ministry by saying that His teachings should be available to anyone around the world. Jesus was all about knowledge, wisdom, and understanding, and equal access to all three. So Jesus would vote for the candidate that advocated providing equal access to equal education across the board.

The Economy (The role of government) - Joseph had the job of organizing the government to make sure that the productivity of business was maximized, and the needs of the country were met long term. Through encouraging the growth of business, the collection of taxes, and the redistribution of the money and resources to areas of community and individual need, he got both Egypt and the Children of Israel through a major crisis. Had business been allowed to run without governmental oversight, the empire would have collapsed. Likewise, without a strong private sector in the seven years before the famine, the country would still have collapsed. Jesus would vote for the person who promoted the most comprehensive government that promote the growth of business within the framework of strengthening the government for the good of the people.

Job Creation – Jesus had no preference for private job creation or government job creation. Some of His disciples were private businessmen, others were government workers. Who created the jobs was not as important as how the business contributed to the benefit of society. The Bible promotes work and creativity in earning a living, and the responsibility to feed oneself to the best of your ability. God’s use of rich men in building His kingdom shows that he respects private business and their ability to create jobs. God also says that all leadership is of him, and he used kings, governors, tax collectors, soldiers, and other employees of the government for great tasks. Jesus would vote for the person who would promote the most comprehensive plan of using government and the private sector to create jobs.

Taxes – Jesus asked that everyone pay tithes and everyone pays taxes. Both send a share of your earnings to a common pot of money to be used for the common good. Jesus said of taxes, give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. Jesus pulled money out of a fish’s mouth in order to pay the taxes for He and Peter, and He chose a tax collector (Mathew) to as a Disciple and traveling companion. That means that he accepted that the government needed to have funds to maintain itself, and He needed to be abreast of the tax laws in the lands He traveled. He also said that the rich should sell what they had and give it to the poor based on who had most need. Jesus would not be thrilled with the rich withholding their fair share, as shown in chapter four of Acts, when Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead after selling there stuff, lying about their profits, and giving less then their share. I believe that Jesus would expect the rich to pay more because they were obviously blessed more (and that doesn’t go to effort, because every coal mine worker works harder than every corporate executive), and people who tried to provide tax breaks to allow the rich to keep more than their share would be seen as aiding and abetting an Ananias/Sapphira situation. He would vote for the person who would uphold these principals.

The Poor – Jesus loves all people, but the Bible does not really address the middle class, or money and quality of life for the people in the middle, as opposed to how to live in a way that God can prosper you in terms of money and quality of life. He speaks greatly about the poor though. He expressed that you should help the poor. Jesus said the poor will always be among us (Deuteronomy 14:11 and Mark 14:7), so poverty is not necessarily a punishment for what you have done, but more a result of what you have not done, and what others have chosen not to do for you. The Beatitudes, say blessed are the poor; well, a major part of how they will be blessed is that those who are rich bless them. The candidate who most wants to reward the rich for helping the poor would be the candidate that Jesus would vote for… and dare I be so presumptuous, but limiting tax breaks to only those associated with giving to religious and/or charitable organizations would probably make Jesus really happy.

Equal Pay for Women – Jesus recognized that women had the right to divorce men. That was unheard of at the time. Jesus said that his Kingdom would not give preference based on race, sex, or anything else. All are free to come, and all will receive equally. Some may argue that Jesus’ parable about the workers who came in the evening getting the same money as those who came in the morning is justification for differential pay for the same work, but again, it was not based on any personal trait the workers had. The candidate that wanted to give women their due would be the one that Jesus would vote for.

Supreme Court Appointments – Jesus believed that you should study to show yourself approved in an area. The person that showed the best background in understanding the constitution would be the candidate that would be best able to choose people who knew enough to serve in those positions. He didn’t get farmers to be “fishers of men”; He got fishermen. This is more important for a Supreme Court Justice than for a Cabinet Member because the Justice would still be there after the president is gone, and the Justice would not be working directly with the president at any time after appointment. Jesus would vote for the candidate that had the most proven understanding of the original purpose of the constitution, and its creation as an amendable structure that could adapt to the growth and change of the country while holding onto it’s initial intent.

Roe v. Wade – Deuteronomy 30:19 says “…I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.” Based on this, I would say that Jesus was anti-abortion and pro-choice. Jesus would believe that abortion was wrong for any reason and at any point, which goes directly to “that you and your descendants may live”. But Christianity is based on teaching toward choice, ie. “choosing life”, and if you take away choice, it takes away the gift/responsibility to choose that Jesus places before us. God didn’t put a fence around the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, because he wanted Adam to choose to respect Him and not the fence. The candidate that advocated a comprehensive plan of education about the sanctity of life without taking away the ability to choose life would be the one Jesus would vote for.

Foreign Policy – The Great Commission, Jesus’ main foreign policy, was to go throughout the world preaching the Good News of Jesus. Within this is the overarching concept that Jesus is Love. Jesus would want our country to be a leader in doing the work that Jesus believed in, like feeding the masses both physically and spiritually, establishing systems of support for the lesser of His children, and teaching what His principals are in a way that would promote others to choose to do things our way.

Military Force – As a carpenter, Jesus had to understand the value of strength… particularly in a time when tools were primitive. Paul said to "lay hands suddenly on no man", so the Bible respects that you should neither attack, nor retaliate, without thought. It follows this up with “be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger”, again saying that conversation should come before conflict. Moreover, Jesus said in the Beattitudes, “blessed are the meek, for the will inherit the earth”, and “blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.” As a member of a country that wants to be a world leader, Jesus would vote for the candidate who would be willing to speak to his enemies before striking at them, even if they laid hands on us suddenly.

2nd Amendment - The King of Kings believed in turning the other cheek when it came to conflict. He would respect the dictates of the government in which he resides as along as it did not make him compromise His values. He would probably support the candidate that best tied gun ownership to an educational program of the sanctity of life and the dangers of gun abuse, and punishment for those who chose to ignore what they learned or chose to use guns without education. Jesus also preached temperance, so He would probably advocate hunting weapons for hunting, and restrict assault weapons to military and police use (those for whom “assault” is part of the job).

If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. But if you don’t think I have a right to speak for Jesus, you’re wrong. I know Jesus… I have a personal relationship with Him. What I covered here is what He told me personally. If he told you something different based on your relationship, that’s fine. If He didn’t talk to you at all, you need to spend a little more time reading His Word and listening to Him. Just make sure that if you speak for Him you are doing His will, and not your will in His name. He doesn’t like that second one very much.


Russell Earl Kelly, PHD said...

In Mt 23:23/Luke 11:42 Jesus could not and did not tell his Gentile disciples to tithe. He was teaching matters "of the law."

Friend, May I offer an alternative interpretation of Malachi for your study.

From: Tithing is not a Christian Doctrine
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD

Malachi 3 is the Most Abused Tithing Text in the Bible. The “whole” tithe never was supposed to go to the Temple!

A. Malachi is Old Covenant and is never quoted in the New Covenant to validate tithing (Lev. 27:34; Neh. 10:28-29; Mal. 3:7; 4:4).

B. In Malachi 3:10-11 tithes are still only food 1000 years after Leviticus 27:30-34 and Numbers 18:21-28.

C. Malachi’s audience had willingly reaffirmed the Old Covenant (Neh.10:28-29). The blessings and curses of tithing are identical to and inseparable from those of the entire Mosaic Law. The rain in Deuteronomy 28:12, 23-24 and Leviticus 26:1-4 is only obtained by obedience to all 613 commandments. Galatians 3:10 (quoting Deu 27:26) “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Trying to earn God’s blessings through tithing only brings curses for failure to keep all of the law. See also Galatians 3:19.

D. Beginning in 1:6 “you” in Malachi always refers to the dishonest priests and not the people (also 2:1-10; 2:13 to 3:1-5): “Even this whole nation of you --priests” (3:9). In 1:13-14 the priests had stolen tithed animals vowed to God. In Nehemiah 13:5-10 priests had stolen the Levites’ portion of the tithe. God’s curses on the priests are ignored by most tithe-teachers (1:14; 2:2 and 3:2-4).

E. Point #12 of the essay. The Levitical cities must be included in a correct interpretation of Malachi 3:10. Most tithe-recipients lived outside of Jerusalem.

F. The 24 courses of Levites and priests must be included in a correct interpretation of Malachi 3. Normally only 2% of the total Levite and priest work force served at the temple one week at a time. Subtract wives, males under the age of 30 and daughters. Therefore 2% did not require all of the tithe. See 1 Chron 23-26; 28:13, 21; 2 Chron. 8:14; 23:8; 31:2, 15-19; 35:4, 5, 10; Ezra 6:18; Neh. 11:19, 30; 12:24; 13:9, 10; Luke 1:5.

G. Nehemiah 10:37-39 is the key to understanding Malachi 3:10, The people were commanded to bring their tithes, not to the temple, but to the nearby Levitical cities. Verse 38 says that the priests were with the Levites in the Levitical cities when they received the tithes.

H. According to Nehemiah 13:5, 9 the “storehouse” in the Temple was only several rooms. The real “storehouses” were in the Levitical cites per Nehemiah 10:37b-38. Only the Levites and priests normally brought tithes to the Temple (10:38). Two rooms in the Temple were far too small to contain the tithe from the entire nation and 98% of the Levites and priests lived too far away to eat from them.

Therefore, Malachi 3:10’s “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse” only makes contextual sense if it is only commanding dishonest priests to replace the tithes they had removed from it or had failed to bring to it.

While the 3:10 of the Law in Malachi is so important to tithe-teachers they ignore the 3:10 of the Gospel in Galatians and 2nd Corinthians. Perhaps those wanting to enforce the 3:10 Law of Malachi should also enforce the 3:10 Law of Numbers. They share the same context.

Christian giving is freewill, sacrificial, generous, joyful, regular and motivated by love. That is enough to provide the needs of the Church.

Dwane T. said...

Thank you Dr. I didn't go as in-dept as you, because my blog was about the election, and not tithing.

Still, Mathew 23:23 says, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."

Jesus admonished those that "only" paid tithes, but he emphazises that they should have done both. So he did believe in tithing...

In the end, your closing statement pretty much sums up what I was saying.

"Christian giving is freewill, sacrificial, generous, joyful, regular and motivated by love. That is enough to provide the needs of the Church."

A corrolary would be, if the tithes are not brought in, the chuch won't have enough to provide for it's needs. Right now, we are not giving, and our economy is collapsing. Giving will help rebuild it.