Guest blogger–Stanley Baldwin
I like your blog theme, Sam, of being and becoming. As for becoming, God has predestined us to be conformed to the image of Christ, and that is what he is working toward all the time. When we quote Romans 8:28 and affirm that “all things work together for good,” we need to understand that the “good” God has in mind is our Christ-likeness (see v. 29).
The bedrock base for Christ-likeness has to be authenticity. God is not all about making clever fakes out of us. Indeed, nothing could be more antithetical to Christ-likeness than hypocrisy, pretending to be something we are not.
When Ananias and Sapphira chose to fake generosity, God struck them both dead (Acts 5). Yet, pretense used to gain favor or deflect criticism persists among Christians. Therefore, we must choose. Will I be authentic or will I pretend to be who and what I think others want?
The wicket gets especially sticky when honest concern for others prompts us to sometimes be less than forthcoming. We doubt that people are of a mind to hear us and we don’t want to alienate them and thus lose both their fellowship and the opportunity to speak truth, as we see it, into their lives, Even Jesus told his disciples, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear” (John 16:12). This leads me to conclude that authenticity does not mean I have to tell you everything I think.
That said, I choose now to take a stand that I think many of my fellow believers may criticize. I refer to the Occupy Wall Street movement. In cities across the country, protest marches and demonstrations have arisen against Wall Street and corporate greed. I can’t support the movement per se; it’s too soon to know who is behind it and where it is going. However, I do fully support its opposition to corporate greed and to corrupt use of economic power.
Both the overall tone and the specific teaching of Scripture are definitely anti-greed. “You shall not covet” is the Tenth Commandment. The church has historically considered greed one of the seven deadly sins. Jesus regularly took his stand with the poor. For example, his story about the beggar Lazarus and the rich man who neglected him consigned the rich man to hell and Lazarus to eternal recompense (Luke16:19-31).
Jesus could have done the opposite. He could have characterized the rich man as an admirable “job creating” entrepreneur who went to heaven and Lazarus as a worthless bum who lay around begging until he died and went to hell. Jesus could have talked that way but then he would have sounded much like would-be president Herman Cain, who said of the Occupy Wall Street protestors: “Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!” (Wall Street Journal interview, October 5)
Whenever protests of abuse by the rich are voiced, some complain of “class warfare.” As one honorable rich man, Warren Buffett says, “Class warfare has been going on for years and the rich are winning.” He’s right. Economic disparity is rapidly increasing in this country. To raise that issue constitutes class warfare? Then I guess Jesus should have told Lazarus to shut up, stay away from the rich man’s door, and quit bothering the important man.
The Early Church declared that Jewish laws and customs are generally not applicable to Gentile believers, but the duty to help the poor is (Galatians 2:9-10). I believe that duty is a part of the age-old social contract of every civilized society. The United States has long seen it as part of government’s role to nurture acts of charity. That’s why charitable contributions are deductible from one’s taxable income.
The United States is presently a country where the super-rich get ever richer and the rest of the people get ever poorer. Instead of the super-rich willingly seeking to provide better pay and benefits to workers, they hire class warfare mercenaries (lobbyists) to demand more breaks for themselves at the people’s expense. Instead of adequately paying the workers who make their wealth possible, they concentrate ever more wealth in the hands of the few. The judgment of God is against such, and America will not survive as a great country if it continues.
I have written as I have because I am judging that you are fair enough to hear it. If you disagree with what I say, don’t write me off, don’t write an attack, but write a rebuttal, based on Scripture.
Stanley Baldwin has served as a pastor and an editor of periodicals and books. Since 1975, he has authored many non-fiction books including four best-sellers of over 250,000 copies each. His books are in a dozen languages. To receive his monthly free email of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Humans, send name and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org