Come on guys....you know me. Of course I don't actually believe that Jesus was a socialist. I'm all about free markets, free people, and free will.
HOWEVER, there is a strong argument coming from people (mostly non-Christians) who claim that Jesus did indeed preach socialistic ideals. And when I say a "strong" argument, I mean it. I'm not just saying they BELIEVE it strongly, I'm saying that they have an actual legitimate argument.
But here is why they are wrong....
First of all, for those that don't know the difference between capitalism (what America is SUPPOSED to practice) and socialism (the old Soviet Union, China, Nazi Germany), here is a quick explanation. Capitalism promotes that everyone has equal OPPORTUNITY to gain wealth whereas socialism promotes that everyone is just EQUAL...period. Now, that is a simplistic look at the dichotomy of ideals split between the two economic philosophies, but it will do for now because I don't want to spend 5 hours typing it all out.
There is this common misconception out there that socialism fights for the poor and the lowly workers while capitalism fights for the rich millionaires. It is in fact the exact OPPOSITE, but that's a tale for a different time.
ANYWAY....back to the point. People that say that Jesus was a socialist have it twisted. Why? Because they equate Jesus' suggestions of giving to the poor with a forced mandate to do so. It is true that Jesus admonishes us to sell our possessions and give to the poor....and WE SHOULD! However, socialists or liberal-thinkers take this concept and run with it.
Here is the key....Jesus doesn't FORCE anyone to sell his or her possessions and give to the poor. Jesus never FORCED people to give their money away. He also never used any government or group to go take their money on His behalf, even if it's for a good cause. He allowed for everyone to give out of their own free will....NOT BY FORCE! Socialism requires wealth to be forcibly taken away and redistributed to the poor (usually via taxes). Jesus says that the wealthy should give to the poor out of their own free will.
Here are some words Jesus spoke to a rich man:
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” - Matthew 19:21
Check out the verses yourself because these are slightly out of context...so allow me to fill in the gaps.
This is a rich young dude who came and sought Jesus out because he wanted to know how to receive eternal life. Jesus first told Him to obey the commandments (don't steal, murder, etc...). The young man was like "great, cuz I ain't done none a that bad stuff, so what else do I need to do?" (That's a quote out of the King James Version, that's why it seems a little weird). So then Jesus replied with the words above where He tells the man to sell his stuff and give to the poor (Matthew 19:21).
Note that He in no way required the young man to give up his possessions. He said "if you want to be perfect" go sell your possessions. Thankfully for us, it is not required that we be perfect to enter heaven, because we are made perfect by Jesus' blood! PTL :)
So, after the guy heard Jesus say that, he got super sad and walked away and left, because he had a ton of worldly possessions and was not willing to part from them.
Of course, as the man walked away distraught...refusing to do what Jesus had asked of him, Jesus laced up his Nikes, chased him down, knocked him out, and beat him up until he gave money to the poor.....because Jesus is a socialist.
Wait.....hold up.....lemme check the scriptures again real fast. Ahhhh.....my bad. I was WAY off. Jesus actually did something even more radical than that: He let him go. HE LET HIM GO! Once again, Jesus did not FORCE the man to follow Him. He did not FORCE the man to give up his possessions. He did not threaten the man at all. He just let him go.
THAT is the difference. Jesus does not promote socialism; He promotes kindness and self-sacrifice. He promotes freedom. He promotes CHARITY!
Socialism does not allow for charity. Socialism STEALS from the rich and gives to the poor. Jesus is not a big fan of Robin Hood. Jesus said NOT to steal. Let me ask you...if all of your money is stolen away, and given to the poor on your behalf, how can you tithe? How can you give to charity? How can you give to the needy when you don't have anything to give?
What's the big picture here then? What's the point? As Christians, we should strive to follow Jesus' example and obey His commandments the best we can. Therefore, we need to help others out ourselves. We cannot put that obligation on someone else. We can't tell someone else to do good deeds on our behalf. We can't expect our GOVERNMENTS to do good deeds on our behalf. We have to do it ourselves. WE have to help the poor. It is not the insanely corrupt government's responsibility to do it; WE have to. The government will probably just pocket the money or use it to start a new war or something.
Gandhi said, "BE the change you want to see in the world." And to that I say "AMEN!"
There is MUCH, MUCH more that could be said, but I'll leave it here for now. So....until next time.....PEACE!