Is Christianity a socialistic structure?
In Galatians, 6:10 we read, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” And in Proverbs, 3:27, “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is within your power to act.” Eph, 4:28. “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing good with his own hands, that he may have something to share with the one in need.”
How do we reconcile the above scripture with the following? 2 Thes, 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. The author reiterates in the following chapter, 1 Thes, 4:11 and to aspire to live quietly, to attend to your own matters, and to work with your own hands, as we instructed you.
Proverbs speaks frequently of laziness. Prov 20:4 “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.”
Yet what exactly is being conveyed here?
1 Tim 5:9 If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. A widow should be enrolled if she is at least sixty years old, the wife of one man, and well known for good deeds such as bringing up children, entertaining strangers, washing the feet of the saints, imparting relief to the afflicted, and devoting herself to every good work. One thing is becoming clear. Able bodied adults are responsible to support themselves and those dependent on them. Not only those in their immediate family, but also those who for legitimate reasons are incapable of providing sufficiently for themselves. If they do not do so, they are considered losers and are not to be associated with.
So, who is our family? Who is our neighbor? Who are we instructed to give assistance to? Many are familiar with the allegory of “the Good Samaritan.”
Luke 10:30 A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
This was not a long term welfare program. It was temporary assistance to a fellow man in need. The healthy, capable and lazy are not entitled to support. It is a disservice to both them and the truly hungry, sick, incapacitated. Those who need a hand. On the lazy it is a waste of resources.
So is Christianity Socialistic? Following we find a window into the early churches perspective on “welfare.” Acts, 2:43 “A sense of awe came over everyone, and the apostles performed many wonders and signs. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they shared with anyone who was in need. With one accord they continued to meet daily in the temple courts and to break bread from house to house, sharing their meals with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
While this group may have been overcome with a sense of awe and decided to share everything scripture does not teach sharing everything, nor does it teach giving for self glory as did Ananias and Sapphira.
God is not interested in giving for show, to be noticed nor for the purpose of gaining stature in the eyes of others. 2 Cor, 9:7 “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
And therein may lie the answer. It is not for the vote seeking, loquacious, duplicitous jesters on our political stages who seek to buy votes with promises of magic money rained down from ambiguous golden clouds. It is not for the obstreperous crowds to shove a socialistic agenda on those who have worked for their money, those who may have been blessed with good fortune and success. No, not for hedonistic mobs to dictate… or is it, has the church relinquished its right to intervene having given over the care for the needy to government? Has the church failed? Or is the church no longer capable of supporting and supplying for such great need. I knew a man who after reaching a certain income bracket reasoned that the increase in taxes decreased his wages to a level where he no longer saw a sufficient return on his efforts and restricted his labors thereafter.
Does Socialism always become Communistic?
I suppose that when power and authority is relinquished to a central government the need for fiscal control over the beneficiaries facilitates the need for stricter guidelines and tighter discipline. This will undoubtedly spark push-back.
Marxism at its core is a lofty ideal. I don’t know that it can ever be implemented in a pure sense. It fails to factor in basic human desires. The desire for wealth, status, power, greater reward for greater effort. Resentment toward an unfair system that rewards the hard working and the lazy equally. Greed and power are great motivators. And our politicians, while some may have begun with altruistic aspirations, Do any believe they aren’t more concerned with re-election to their esteemed position of power and wealth than the concerns of a silent majority? The vociferously obnoxious lost children demand attention.
While pure Christianity may have some commonality with Marxism, this earth is a divided earth not some Utopian fairyland, and well… look around. We humans are in varying degrees an amalgamation of the good, bad, ugly and beautiful. As individuals and as societies. There is none sinless, and perhaps very few absolutely evil. Our lives are defined daily by our responses to extrinsic causal motivators. And we, in spite of those who proffer determinism are free agents and have choices to make. Christianity is not a mandate, not a communal socialist organizational structure, it is an individual choice to love your neighbor as yourself. A response from a heart to “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves”.