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Jesus Was On The Side Of The Poor. Christians Who Support Trump Should Remember That

Jesus had a special sense of mission to poor and oppressed people. At the outset of his ministry, Jesus stood up in the synagogue at Nazareth and said: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)

Jesus commanded: “Love your neighbor.” When asked to define “neighbor,” Jesus expanded the traditional meaning of the word–defining our neighbor as anyone who is in need, including social outcasts: “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.” (Luke 14:13)

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.”

So while not party-political, this Jesus was, by association, partisan. Jesus wasn’t necessarily a Liberal, but he was certainly aligned with progressive ideals.

As Brad Chilcott notes in a recent article for The Guardian:

“Jesus was overtly on the side of the poor, the excluded, the ignored, the disenfranchised and the exploited.

It would be hard to argue that Christians should support one party or another. However, I do believe we are called to on the side of those who are marginalized and disadvantaged by a system designed to benefit those at the top. If we follow Jesus, we will stand with and for all who are left out, forgotten, abused and socially, economically and politically excluded.

Being on the side of the poor or excluded isn’t about having progressive values, the right opinions or even voting the right way. It’s about the decision to leverage any power, privilege, abilities and resources you have to transform not only an individual’s immediate circumstances but, more importantly, the economic, social and cultural systems that perpetuate inequality, poverty, exclusion, and exploitation. Laws matter, national budgets matter, political policies matter because they not only reflect what society says is OK but provide the framework on which structural inequality – or social equity – is built.

Jesus’ vision wasn’t for a hospital at the bottom of a cliff (that you can only access if you’re willing to sit through a sermon first) – it was presenting the real possibility of an alternative society in which the cliff has been dismantled.

We know that corporate greed and trickle-down economics are not working. We know that unfettered capitalism is destroying our planet and rapidly increasing inequality. We know that discrimination – whether due to race, gender, sexuality or religion – makes individuals suffer, our communities less healthy and our world less safe.

We know that the economy is designed to favor the wealthy when income for those at the top increases while wages at the bottom go down. We know in whose favor our leaders govern when the rich are given tax breaks while community legal services, needs-based education funding, and other social supports are being cut.

And we know that Jesus was consistently on the side of the poor.

Easter, with its powerful image of Jesus nailed to a cross because the religious and political leaders wanted him dead, invites Christians to give our lives for the sake of others. Following Jesus requires we love people not only with words, theology or charity but in costly solidarity and a determination to expose the evil of any ideology that pretends inequality, violence or exploitation are noble, natural or ordained by God.”

The Easter weekend reminds us that we know how this will end. That those in whose favor the system is rigged will crucify those who threaten their power.

And then, one day, we will win.”


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