The Religious Left has missed the meaning of that statement. Yes, there is a place for Christian social action—but that place is in a personal lifestyle of generosity and compassion to the poor. Jesus didn't tell the rich young ruler to become a political activist and affect public policy. He said, "Go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
It's true, there's poverty in America, and some of the poor can't lift themselves out of poverty without help. Some are physically or socially disadvantaged. Some are down on their luck. They need and deserve Christian compassion and the good news of the gospel.
But a huge number of people receiving government assistance are substance abusers, welfare cheats, or chronically lazy. Doesn't the Bible tell us, "If a man will not work, he shall not eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10)? Why must the "makers" of society support the "takers" of society? That's not compassion. That's theft. Wouldn't it be more compassionate to encourage the takers to develop self-respect by becoming productive citizens?
Would Jesus endorse government policies that encourage and enable addiction, indolence, and welfare fraud? Certainly not. The Religious Left should read His parables, especially the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), the Parable of the Vineyards (Matthew 20:1-16), and the Parable of the Tenants (Matthew 21:33-46). In those parables, Jesus blesses hard work, personal responsibility and the freedom to achieve.
Government programs can't separate the truly needy from the welfare cheats—but private Christian charities can. Private charities are far more effective than government at meeting needs, changing lives, eliminating fraud and waste, and dispensing compassion. Our stance as Christians should be pro-compassion, not pro-bureaucracy.
The place for compassionate Christian social action is in the church, and in the lives of individual believers. When the church becomes a political pressure group, telling the government, "Confiscate more wealth from those who earned it and give it to those who have not," then the church has formed an unholy union with the kingdoms of this world.
Income redistribution is not Christianity. It's Marxism—and mixing the two only pollutes the Gospel and betrays the Great Commission.
Stay tuned for Part 3: Is America a "fallen nation"?