This series will have a different feel to it because each week there will be a video roundtable discussion from members of West B who will discuss the topic at hand. The topics for the sermons deal with cultural “hot topics” issues that have in fact reached a fever pitch. You may have noticed that we live in a culture that has become hostile and angry over anything and everything especially social and cultural issues. The temperature has risen to the point where If feels like we cannot talk about controversial issues without our conversations turning into heated arguments that result in relationships severing due to disagreement. This is unfortunate because when we look at the Bible, the New Testament in particular, we are told time and again to be united as believers and at peace with one another. The Church needs desperately to be unified under the umbrella of Jesus Christ. We gather every week to worship Jesus in one Spirit and with one mind. We are called to be unified. Jesus specifically calls us to be salt and light to the dark world. Unfortunately, Christianity, and the evangelical church, has become known more for what we are against and not who we represent. It is not uncommon in today’s climate for the unbelieving world to recognize or affiliate us with our political beliefs more than our spiritual commitments and this causes friction.
We need to de- escalate the conversation… We need to do as Jesus commands us, “love one another, love our enemies and treat others the way we want to be treated. We do not have to avoid hot button topics, but the question is how do we talk with people about these issues without unhealthy conflict and division? I hope to answer these questions in the next few weeks.
Capitalism and Socialism Defined
What is capitalism? Capitalism according to the dictionary is an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state. It promotes free-trade, competition, and
What is socialism? Socialism is a complex system with varying ideologies that is a whole other conversation, but the dictionary defines socialism as a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
What does the Bible say about these two?
Interestingly the Bible does not specifically endorse or refute capitalism or socialism. In fact, the Bible never mentions either of these ideas by name. But it does speak a lot about both the positive and sinful and abusive actions these ideologies promote.
There is no doubt God has blessed individuals with wealth. God used wealthy individuals like Lydia for the expansion and advancement of the Kingdom of God. Lydia, we are told, was a wealthy merchant… a seller of purple, and she supported Paul and his companions on their missionary journeys. She supported them financially and in hospitality. God blessed Lydia wealth and she was generosity with her resources, and she had heart of Christ to advance the Kingdom of God.
On the contrary throughout history there have been multitudes who have abused their wealth in their lust for money, power, and accumulation for evil purposes, such as corruption, abuse, and enslavement.
We also see the Holy Spirit uses the church in Acts to sell their possession and share all they had and distribute their wealth among the people so there were no needs or financial hardships among the body of Christ. God used the generosity of the church to expand the Kingdom of God.
Unfortunately, throughout history many have and continue to abuse social justice, programs, and assistance to enable laziness, avoiding work and shirking responsibility, and encouraging entitlement to receive something for nothing.
Susan mentioned in the video, we have a call to social justice and we should care for and help the needy. However, we do not have the responsibility to enable. Kevin mentions we have the mandate to work hard and provide for ourselves and families and not take for granted the systems that are set up to help those in who are in need. Hard work can pay, and handouts can enslave.
So, let’s take a moment and look at what the Bible says about the positive and negative aspects of these two ideologies.
What does the Bible say about …?
The Gospel Connection
Human governmental is flawed because humans are flawed. The Bible speaks of the depravity of humanity, thus we will, at the heart, have systems that can be and are often depraved. This does not mean that they are evil and anti-God, it simply means they are flawed and need redemption. However, humanity does not have the power to redeem social injustices only through human intervention, economics, and government. Having the heart of Jesus is the only way to redeem what is flawed. Our systems are at the core, heart issues (Jeremiah 17:9 – 10) and only through Jesus can he redeem us through his blood (Ephesians 1:7) and once we live as redeemed children of God, we may see the Gospel expand thus influencing the culture we live in.
As Christians we no longer solely associate or affiliate with a pollical party, ideology, or human institute. We no longer base our thoughts, actions, and reactions on supposed human wisdom or politics. We now belong to Jesus Christ; thus, our thoughts, actions, and reactions should emulate Jesus; and this is how we start to de-escalate the conversation when it begins to escalate. When we do to others what we would like them to do to us. When we love our enemies! Pray for those who persecute us! When we get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. And when we be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Then we can be salt and light when the culture, and climate is bitter and dark.
The world cannot and will not change solely through politics and government. The world needs Jesus, and he has commissioned us to be the agents of change for His glory through social justice, the preaching of the Gospel, living out the Gospel, and sharing His gift of grace with the world.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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