Jesus – A Practicing Socialist

The church should be an instrument of redemption and practice redemptive socialism.

It is impossible to read the New Testament and not see the theme of redemption through faith in Jesus Christ. In fact, that is the exclusive theme in both the Old and New Testament. The sacrifice of God’s Son upon the cross provided redemption for whosoever will believe. And yes, we can understand that now, but our understanding with be much greater and soaked in experience when we one day lay eyes upon the Risen Christ! What a glorious day of promise.
But there is an interesting subplot that makes much more than a minor cameo appearance throughout the New Testament. And this supportive theme many times is minimized if not wholly ignored. Again, it is impossible to read through the New Testament and not see this continuing exhortation. And this theme is designed to uphold, empower, and aid in the spreading of the gospel of redemption. As believing followers of the Lord Jesus, we are personally called to lives of moderation.
But it goes much deeper than that. Even in that moderation and personal sacrifice, we are called to minister to the people of this world. And when I say minister, I mean more than just teaching and preaching. So often we have isolated teaching and preaching and walked away with a feeling of religious fulfillment and a faithful dispatch of our New Testament duties. But in so doing we are ignoring the Scriptural outline for a disciple’s behavior.
Capitalism, nationalism, and hedonism has captured and imprisoned the western evangelical marketplace. And if you are “orthodox” in your doctrine, then the fringe issues seem negotiable. Therefore, if you believe in the deity of Christ, and salvation by grace through faith, and a few other pillars of the doctrinal faith, then you stand in fulfillment of the teachings of Christ. You are a disciple.
But wait a minute.

Matt.28:18-20 – And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Many of our ultra-orthodox (whatever that is) friends have long since made the point that we are to make disciples, not just believers. Personally I believe there is a touch of semantics in that, however they bring up a valid point. Verse 20 states that we should teach the converts. And so we have Sunday Schools and Christian books and statements of faith and systematic theologies. And ultimately we consider a mature believer as one who can articulate an orthodox systematic theology.
But that is not what Christ is saying in the Great Commission. Jesus commands us to teach believers to observe – or DO – what He has commanded us to do. That is profoundly different than saying teach the great doctrines of the faith. The words “observe” and “command” indicate something much greater than just learning truths. They indicate a doing and an obedience to the commands of Jesus, not just a learning of what He said and what He taught. If knowing all the core doctrines of the faith is the indispensable element of being a disciple, then there were not many disciples until recently since millions of believers were illiterate and perhaps millions still are today. And none of His commands had anything to do with enhancing and elevating our own lives.
Ask the average western theologian about what constitutes the foundational truths of Christianity and he will inevitably give you a list like this:
Deity of Christ
The Trinity
The virgin birth
Salvation by faith alone
The Resurrection
The Atonement through the blood
Now those things are important and do provide a foundation for understanding eternal redemption. But missing are the “to do” commands of Jesus, which must be important to Him since He included them in the Great Commission. Where are these in such lists:
Feed the poor
Minister to the sick
Visit the prisoners
Clothe the needy
Give water to the thirsty
Do good to your enemies
Rejoice in persecution
Bless them which curse you
Take up your cross
Be clothed with humility
Where aren’t those things in any list of approved orthodoxy? Why is humility an elective? Why is humanitarianism not an orthodox doctrine? We seem to be content, and even prideful, when we can regurgitate the written doctrines while seemingly ignoring the commands. And because many are prideful about their orthodoxy and their carefully exegeted doctrines of the faith, they step lightly on the commands of Christ concerning humility, humanitarian deeds, and being kind to our enemies. They are wary about others misjudging them as liberal or emergent because they feed the poor, etc..
But in downplaying such deeds the church has done substantial damage to the faith. The Christian faith was never meant to be an SAT test. It was birthed as a living exhibition of the Person of Christ and the redemptive heart of God. We were never meant to gloat in our literal interpretation of the Scriptures concerning a certain set of truths, while we place other Scriptures in a more casual light and in effect eviscerate their substance.
But, sadly, the average evangelical church stands upon its statement of faith as proof of its Biblical alignment, but the lives and behavior of its congregation are no more remarkable than the average “I believe in God” kind and nice person. The distinctives of a believers life have become so shallow and so unremarkable, that when we have a four sentence conversation with a stranger and he does not curse we think he might be a believer. Really? So a disciple is recognized by the things he does not do, and not so much by the things he does do? How pitiful!
Where is that light that shines in the world? That light that Jesus spoke of as shining through us, that isn’t placed inside a book of theology and encouraged to shine at preacher’s conventions and discussion forums and in pastor‘s libraries. That light is action; it is deeds. And those deeds must be uncomfortable and selfless and aimed at sinners from all stripes. Those deeds must have the love of Jesus Christ as their power and message. And those deeds are living epistles, ripped from the walls of doctrinal taxidermists and infused with His life they go without the camp, bearing His cross and washing the feet of leprous sinners.
We are to observe all things that He commanded of us. To love the Lord your God is more than doctrinal purity; it is more than just a great worship service; it goes way beyond mere words. Loving God cannot be separated from loving your fellow man. When you did not do it to the least of these you did not do it to Him. What a profound mystery, and yet no one can pretend ignorance. Christianity is more than just a religion. It is a life. And that life is an instrument of redemption, broken and spilled out, and stooping down so low so as to minister to the scabrous, the repugnant, the immoral, and in reality the dead corpses that walk among us every single day.
Let us come down from our doctrinal pedestals. Let us repent of the ways in which we have created a system that is so aloof and comfortable. Let us leave the redundant regurgitations that praise what we know and ignore what we must do. The church is so stagnant, so insulated, and so immobilized even while exhibiting a form of godliness within a myriad of activities while millions die physically and spiritually.
Redemption required blood. Read James once more and see that spreading that gospel message requires more than words. How much does He require of us who bear His name?

Just everything.

Nothing more, nothing less.
Posted by Rick Frueh at 6:50 PM

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11 Responses to Jesus – A Practicing Socialist

  1. Al Nelson says:

    Whatever you think of the authors title, I agree with the message. It’s not about going to church, but being the church.

  2. Rick Frueh says:

    The title is somewhat inaccurate since Jesus subscribes to no earthly system. But I used it to draw attention to the subject, and boy did it! Thanks for posting it.

  3. ian vincent says:

    It’s certainly true that when the religious system ticks all the doctrinal boxes, then it matters little to them whether that person lives the life of a follower/disciple of Jesus, or not, you’re in. It’s too simple minded to be worthy of Jesus.

    Yes, there is no separation, in the sight of God, between doctrinal beliefs and actions/life.

    We never have to choose between believing the truth and obeying the truth. One never gets in the way of the other.

    The doctrines of the NT never get in the way of us living as Jesus and the Apostles did, but, as the article says, people can specialize in doctrine at the expense of obedience, or vice versa.

  4. Al says:

    Thanks for the comments brothers. It’s true, men spend all kinds of energy reading and studying and expounding, and never once sought God. The Lord showed me a number of years ago, and I was reminded recently, that the Gospel is so simple He could explain it to a 4 year old. We don’t need fancy theology or doctrine apart from Christ. We just need to follow Him. It’s a simple matter. His Power and Glory is released when we are walking in Jesus and His commandments. I like what Rick pointed to:
    “Feed the poor
    Minister to the sick
    Visit the prisoners
    Clothe the needy
    Give water to the thirsty
    Do good to your enemies
    Rejoice in persecution
    Bless them which curse you
    Take up your cross
    Be clothed with humility”

    These are tools to aid us in ministering to others as we share the Gospel.

  5. fleebabylon says:

    “We never have to choose between believing the truth and obeying the truth. One never gets in the way of the other.”


  6. fleebabylon says:

    “These are tools to aid us in ministering to others as we share the Gospel.”

    Al – that is a good point. We should not replace the Gospel proclamation with good works and we should be careful to maintain good works while proclaiming the Gospel.

    I have seen a “cant lose” situation in this regard. When open air preaching and passing out tracts in Detroit during festivals and such we almost always bring food and drinks for the homless that wander the area. You end up getting to do it all, as far as caring for the weak and needy, preaching the cross of Christ, sin, rightousness, and judgements to come. You end up with homeless people sitting around listening to you and enjoying the food (clearly given to them in the name of Jesus), athiests stopping to talk with you, hecklers, lots of conversations, getting to pray for people, believers stopping by to talk with you (I took part in the most amazing testimony meeting that broke out on the streets while passing out tracts). I am rambeling now but I just wanted to stop by to encourage you and say God bless you brother.

    In Christ -Jim

  7. Al says:

    God Bless you too brother. I appreciate your kind words and praise the Lord for your fellowship. I appreciate your rambling as well. 🙂 Glad to hear the Lord is using you in such a way. I’ve been looking around here to see who does street ministry. Beyond what I see with the homeless shelter and the usual organizations that help out there, in all the years I went to public events, I never saw any open air preaching here. Maybe there’s a city ordinance I’m not aware of. There have been a few different times where I have just been going about my business, the Lord has placed someone in my path that I have been able to minister to or share the Gospel with. We need to be ready at all times.

  8. fleebabylon says:

    There have been a few different times where I have just been going about my business, the Lord has placed someone in my path that I have been able to minister to or share the Gospel with. We need to be ready at all times.

    Amen Al.. not everyone is called to street ministry, sorry if I made it sound that way. I have not been on the streets (only once or twice) in over a year and have been spending time working and at home with my family. My heart is still with the homeless, addicts, and the hurting though and I long to get back out there.

  9. Al says:

    “sorry if I made it sound that way” Not at all. I’ve been praying a bit lately as to whether that’s something I should be involved with. I’m certainly fascinated by and appreciate the skill sets one must possess to do this. For me, the Lord has led me in one on one interaction. When I interact with people I look for the open door, that part of conversation that leads to discussion about the Lord. It’s an awesome thing seeing the Lord in those situations.

  10. fleebabylon says:

    “I’m certainly fascinated by and appreciate the skill sets one must possess to do this.”

    Weakness, fear, no confidence in yourself, a love for God and a love for your nighbor is all that is required brother! When I started to get comfortable street preaching is when I knew it was time to stop. That it is, when it was routine and I could do it with or without the Lord.

    In Christ -Jim

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