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Redistribution of Wealth

I have recently heard a lot of comments from fellow believers on the issue of redistribution of wealth, and I am disturbed. I should start out by saying that I do not agree with the idea that it is the government’s role to redistribute wealth. So, my concern and frustration at people’s reactions is not because I’m supportive of this as a government action, but rather because I hear in these responses a very American, but not a very Christian, attitude–an attitude that I think we in the US church have so adopted that we think it is a Christian attitude. My concern is with the heart and the tone of Christians as we discuss the issue of sharing the fruits of OUR labor with others.

When I hear Christians angry that their hard earned money would be shared with illegal immigrants or the poor, I’m confused. When I hear Christians give sweeping comments about illegals or poor people being lazy or undeserving, I’m concerned. If our anger or resistance is with the government taking on roles that it should not have (i.e., being manager of an individual’s wealth), I understand. But I am not sure if that is all that I am hearing, because what I am hearing, the anger and resentment, comes out in language towards illegals and the poor and in comments about MY money and MY hard work. That is why I am concerned and a little fired up. As Christians, we should be the first to recognize that our money is not our own. It is the Lord’s and He has given it to us to be stewards and to share of our wealth. Yes, people are to work and earn money, but I think that far too often, we make generalities about the poor or immigrants, generalities that are true of a portion but not the whole. We also tend to forget that there are people of ALL social classes who are lazy or whatever other label we like to give to the poor/immigrants.

We, as North American Christians often (okay, I don’t want to make a gneralization here, so I say often or many of us) adhere to the American idea of the self-made man, independence, what’s mine is mine because I earned it, and perhaps we begin to think that this is actually a Biblical principle. Yes, Scripture speaks a great deal about working hard and does not have great things to say about laziness. I’m not advocating that we stop calling people to live to their fullest and to work hard–we should do that. However, I would venture to say that our angry responses to the idea of redistributing our wealth (granted, the government shouldn’t do it –that is not the point of this article) reveal something about the American Church’s theology that needs to be rethought. It is dangerous when we start to call American ideas Christian principles.

So, if we are angry at the thought of the government redistributing our wealth, let’s stop for a moment and evaluate. Take the government out of the picture. Let’s focus on our hearts. Why does this issue make us mad? Is it because of the government? Is it because we think the poor and immigrants are lazy or undeserving? Is it because we have a much fiercer grasp on our money than perhaps is God-honoring?

I do not suggest a solution on the issue. What my heart hurts for right now is the anger and resentment that I hear from my brothers and sisters in Christ towards a sector of our world for whom Jesus died and whom God loves dearly (and places a WHOLE lot of emphasis on in Scripture). What my heart hurts for is all that we as believers (and I include myself on this) are missing out on by holding so fast to our money or our ideas. What my heart hurts for is the generalizations that we make about groups of people that are not true and that hurt these people, our Lord and ourselves. I am susceptible to each of these things and want to change, and I want to see God’s people understand His heart better and be more gentle.

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