>Jesus on the Left

>Last week I was asked by a new follower to describe my political position. It seemed that through reading my posts he was a bit confused. I can’t imagine why. Sometimes I appear to be conservative, at other times quite liberal. So where exactly do I stand on the important issues of the day?

I answered him thusly; I consider myself to be a Christ-Following Libertarian who places his Politics on the Right but his Jesus on the Left.

Much of the debate between the so called Christian Right and Christian Left centres around two things. The roll the church should take in government and the roll the government should take in social institutions. I believe this entire argument is misleading and misrepresents the roll that either institution should take in our daily lives.

As a libertarian I maintain that government should be small and so I lead by example removing myself from it as much as possible. I vote for initiatives that traditionally have been the purview of the right, small government, liaise-faire economics and personal freedom. I don’t like it when my government tells me I have to pay taxes to maintain a road I may never drive on, build a school I will never send my children to or support a war I don’t believe in. But the bible clearly tells me to shut up about it when they do so I don’t get involved in rallies and protests either.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. [Romans 13:1-2]

But as I read through the Gospels I also clearly see a Jesus who was very concerned with the plight of the poor and marginalized, values traditionally associated with the left.

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ [Matthew 25:37-40]

I also see a Jesus who had very little to say directly to the governing authorities about such things. He spoke directly to his followers and the religious elite not to the government of his day. The instructions Jesus gives never tell his followers how to lobby government or how to wield political power. His instructions are personal and specific.

So what does this mean in a day and age when certain values seem to have won the day and do hold political power? Are we to applaud or condemn government when it seeks to provide free healthcare to those who can’t afford it? Are we to get involved or remain silent when certain members of the church abuse their freedom of speech to spread hate and oppression?

The answer of course to these questions is simple, follow Jesus. Many Christians are fond of saying “WWJD?” (What Would Jesus Do?)

Of course we know what Jesus did; he cared for the poor, he did not condemn the woman caught in adultery, he commanded us to love our enemies, he preached peace, he ate with sinners and he did it all without any support from the government or the church. In fact he all but ignored the government and fought with the established church until they had him killed.

I get very uncomfortable when Christian organizations accept government support. Government does not allocate money based on the good it will do so much as on the votes it will buy. Christians on the other hand should not be concerned with politics. Our only motivation should be to follow Jesus. When we become dependent on government support the motivation not to offend is too great.

A few months ago Glenn Beck urged Christians to leave churches that preached social justice, calling it a code word for communism. But the church is the only place where social justice can be effectively preached at all. It is the core teaching of Jesus and it functions quite nicely without any help from the government.

Why would anyone anywhere on the political spectrum (right or left) have a problem with that?


  1. >Social Justice is a code word for Communism. You preach the values of how Jesus stayed out of politics, and yet want to push Marxist policies into the Churches? Question, who framed the term Social Justice and why?(Hint: Marx)This is again contrary to everything Jesus did and taught. What did Jesus tell slaves i.e poor working class people to do? Rise up and overthrow your masters?Marx said workers and poor must rise up, take from the rich and redistribute it as you see fit and he called the financial results of those actions SOCIAL JUSTICE. The agenda because known as communism. The fact is, to achieve pure equality, all must be reduced to the lowest common denominator. You can't get equal outcomes by just setting slaves free, so you must enslave all in the interest of fairness, of course, there must be a ruling educated elite who know what is best for all. (from the Lincoln/Marx letters 1964) This is again nothing more than atheist/marxist propaganda bundled to sound religious.

  2. >Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.Man, if that ain't social justice, I don't know what is…

  3. >As a skeptic, I see Jesus' teachings and actions on the matters of social justice to be actually one of the better arguments towards proving a divine origin. Not only is it a genuinely selfless attitude, but it is also a message which is consistently commanded by God throughout the entire Bible. Looking out for the poor, the fatherless, the widow, AND the alien is a theme which is repeated so often that there should be no question as to God's opinion of social justice.To me, when someone proclaims otherwise, I find it to be just another sad example of a "Christian" who has either never studied the Bible, or is too biased in their own beliefs to fully digest its text. That really sucks, because the world would be a much better place if people obeyed these particular teachings.Of course, I have other issues with the Bible itself, but that's another story… 😉

  4. >*sigh* – andrew -You just don't get it do you?I want Jesus policies in churches – I could care less about Marx or Stalin or Soros or Obama. Maybe the reason those guys tried to usurp Jesus policies is that he was right. The mistake all those guys made, and continue to make is that they are trying to make Jesus teaching into a political agenda, which they are not, and were never intended to be.

  5. >Libertarians don't care as much about how small or big government is. They care about HOW and in WHAT WAYs government intrudes on their lives. Libertarians are also nationalistic. That means they are against "world" governing bodies such as the UN. Something you avidly support. There is a left-right spectrum within the libertarian spectrum, but those are differences in how people live their lives and how to implement their ideas. One of those divides are the "flat" and "fair" tax supporters. To actually learn more about the libertarian movement in the USA, my friend, The Humble Libertarian (I have never used Lauren's blog to shamelessly promote my own-this is a friend who daily tackles issues that libertarians discuss. He is totally secular, as libertarians want their state and federal governments. US states are seen as "States, or independent nations, with the federal government to play a role much as the UN does in the world. Libertarians believe in bringing most of our military home. They believe that the US military should exist to protect US and never fight under the flag of an abomination like the UN. Beyond that, there is a strong emphasis on local solutions for local problems and issues. Ideas such as nationalized healthcare anger libertarians. Each part of the country is different problems, requiring different needs, and those needs have different solutions. If individual states want state run health care system, there is enough accountability at the state government level to make those choices and those who dislike those choices can vote with their wallets and feet. Above all, the tie that binds the broad libertarian spectrum is personal responsibility. With freedom comes responsibility. As those who have lived in a free country understand, and folks like people in Egypt are going to discover, achieving freedom is easy. Establishing that freedom and keeping that freedom is the hard part. People in Egypt were chanting about their "rights" in their fight for freedom. Yet they have yet to decide those rights and how those rights will be protected and or restricted. I pray that the Egyptian people become an example to the world, especially the Arab world that they can achieve exactly that and that in the process, they prosper. I hope the Egyptian people can prove history wrong as every "democratic" revolution since 1791 when ours ended resulted in disaster. Hitler, Lenin, Mao, Castro and Chavez all came to power under the promise of "Democracy." Libertarians strongly support our Constitution. That is because, fundamentally, our Constitution limits our federal government to the rights and wrongs spelled out in the Bible. That limits the powers of government. It was set up this way so that unpopular legislation (like Obamacare) faces multiple ways that Americans can reverse or change what must. In that way, Americans can undo damage caused by bad policy. As Egypt will discover, achieving freedom is the easy. Keeping it will be a constant challenge and will take huge sacrifices!The host says that the views expressed on this blog are "libertarian", that is not true. The previous "Nimrod" post demonstrates that.

  6. >hi again andrew – I'm sorry – I didn't realize your last name was Webster – next time I need to define a word I will just ask you, since you are apparently a better dictionary than the one I have on my shelf.

  7. >You are pushing a political agenda, but you won't say so here. You don't like it when your government tells you what to do, but you don't denounce Marxism which tells all but the elite what to do…treat others as….they deserve for being non-liberal uneducated troglodytes with narrow minded world views, eh..Your header says "one man's humble attempt to make sense of the world". That man would not resort to "say hi to the other fallen empires" to offend Americans or "it's "—" so just deal with it". That is arrogance, a hallmark of leftists, not humility. Maybe you should follow that advice before you tell everyone else how narrow minded they are as you like to say to folks like me.

  8. >Touche Andrew…Telling you to deal with it was a poor choice of words, however I do stand my assertion that a) all authority has been established by God, even the so called Marxist ones.b) the American empire is falling and it is only America that lead the way through it. I gave some humble advice on the way I see that playing out. You can take it or leave it.

  9. >Jesus on the left…This is an interesting title…I think perhaps a better title would have been…“JESUS IN THE TOP CENTER”I see no contradiction to scripture here what’s so ever in regard’s to your explanation of where Jesus stands. (with the exception of the word used "social Justice")Lauren.What I don’t understand is why people place a title of libertarian (or any other political title after saying I am a Christ follower) but I also understand the context of the blog as a whole and that you were answering another posters question about your poetical position and beliefs, so not a big deal I guess.“The debate between the so called Christian Right and Christian Left” Hmmm…???WOW…“The bible clearly tells me to shut up about it”I guess from a biblical stand point …that about sums it up!!!Andrew33 said…“and yet want to push Marxist policies into the Churches?” Did I miss something here? What Does Glen beck or Marx for that matter have to do with any of Jesus’ teachings and or commandments?I think both you and Andrew are missing something very important here… (Social Justice) as Lauren stated…”It is the core teaching of Jesus”I think this (social Justice thing) is different from what Jesus taught and commanded… Let me try and explain my understanding between the differences…Social justice is a form of man made governmental standards and an ideology that promotes equality for all. (An example of this might be the parable of the workers of the vineyard but on the same note Jesus appeared to have no problem with the man having wealth,) Jesus’ attacking of the religious leaders of that time was more about them being hypocrites and prideful and thinking them selves as better and above the common peopleVrs…What Jesus taught was Love…Love entails complete selflessness and self sacrifice for another. Not just some of oneself or his wealth in order to promote equality.There is a difference…(well at least in as far as my understanding goes)But then like you said Lauren… Jesus’ teachings and commandments are not; nor were they ever meant to; be used for political agenda’s, But rather a compass to guide the heart, mind and life of every believer in his walk with Christ. (not nations…Christ did not come to save any nations or governments etc etc)

  10. >Well said Lauren but I’d like to give my views. If we place Jesus anywhere on the political spectrum, he would be on the left. However, as you pointed out, Jesus stayed out of politics. Instead, he was setting an example for Christianity and not the government, in Matthew 25:31–45. It is the people who keep trying to mix religion and politics, by putting certain Christian principles in the form of social issues and turning them over to the government. Jesus never did that. Those are Christian issues and Christians, not the government, will be judged by them.Christians will be judged individually, not collectively, as some people may believe it. The issues in Matthew 25:31–45, speak to the character of Christians and the characteristics of Christianity. Those things are what Christians do; because those things were what Christ did. This is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:25) My belief is, we should keep Christ completely off the political spectrum but keep him at the center of our lives.Jimmie

  11. >Jesus would have been ashamed of the so called left.The way Jesus set up the early Church shows Jesus' non-partisanship. The 1st century Church ultimately boils down to God deciding that central planning and organizing aka huge a federal or central government will claim to "help" people but will ultimately do more harm than good. It's the corporations in conjunction with governing bodies like the UN, NATO ,EU, that are supporting obamacare. why, because they want the small businesses which still have the biggest piece of the overall pie out of the way. Our big corpoations aren't capitalist, they are in the business of "manipulative consumerism." Then the government call capitalists-small business owners…the boogeyman. When Christianity was in it's infancy, there were no clergy in charge of regions, no pope, just small individual groups if people gathering, giving what they could to contribute, and each group picked a group of leaders from within to be organizers of that group. They engaged in willful socialsm on the local level. Peter was never a "pope" despite what you were taught in Catholic theology. Groups of Christians met, and dealt with their problems and needs on their own. The first record of a "church" picking a single leader or head of a Church is at the earliest 120 a.d. and that was "Clement" who is often called the second Pope. The original Christian intent was individualism helping the collective just as Reagan's economic policies a.k.a "trickle down economics" were laid out, not clerical elites leading the uneducated masses in any direction they so choose as the "left" thinks things should be. The reasoning for the success of the USA, from the pro-liberty movement all the way to our founding fathers separating the powers of the Federal Government was prevention of a few making decisions for everyone. That discussion about "project Camelot" is the simple notion that we don't need ever growing government bodies or multinational corporations telling us how to do things.We can, at the local level, take care of ourselves. The closer we get to a "nanny state," the more self serving that state will be. Look at the Orthodox Christian religions, Look at the muslim suicide bombers willing to blow up their own in the name of the "collective". This is happening all world at the same time. Now violence is starting to uptick, not from the "pro-liberty" movement but from statists. I originally wrote this in 2009, and posted it in 3/10/2010. Look at both Egypt and Minnesota and ask yourself, is this true? You are pushing this inherent belief that the "left" is superior because of some sort of charitable agenda. Right or wrong, it is you bringing politics the teachings of Christianity by putting Jesus on the left. Now Jesus told people what to do individually, not collectively. did he do miracles, yes, but only after people had listened to his teachings which was a personal choice. Any of the 5K that were fed after Jesus taught them for a day could have left because they were hungry. They chose to stay and listen and got a free meal in the process while others likely didn't. What was more important, the lesson or the miracle? Lauren here will tell you that the miracle shows Jesus was a "leftist". Name one famous person on the so called left today that will make you listen to a whole day of teaching before you get your free handout? Nowadays, Churches give out the handouts to get people in the door. IF one is a "Christ Follower", I.E. lives as Christ did, they would be repulsed by such actions.

  12. >Lauren,There are valid points many of your readers raised. I could say a bit about Libertarianism as I "came out" of the "movement". Andrew's points were good. But I need to read your post and comments a little more carefully. Thanks for your invite for sure. But feel free to visit mine as well. We must be absolutely diligent in defining our terms and what it is we stand for. I would never identify myself as a Libertarian because wrapped up in that title is a philosophy that runs contrary to my Christianity. But I get the spirit in which you write. If nothing else criticism is good for enabling us to write better and clearer in expressing what it is we believe.-Joe

  13. >Two comments:1. In a democracy the people are the government. God gave us indiividual rights (like to speak and to choose). If a government took your rights away (like say your right to free speech), would you be happy with that? It's what happens in Iran and China. I don't think Jesus would support such a government.2. You're assuming the right doesn't care for the poor. During the 1920s in the U.S. when conservatism was in full tilt, unemployment was 2%, less than at any other time in history. Under full tilt liberalism in the 1930s and 1940s unemployment was between 10-20%. Today under a liberal President it's barely under 10%. During the 1980s more poor people moved up the ladder under a conservative president than at any time in history. So while the left speaks more of the poor, the actions of the right seem to be more in line with the workings of Jesus. Just a thought.

  14. >Rick…It's not about what I would be happy with. If the government took away my right to free speech how exactly would that be any different than the environment in which the entire New Testament was written and would it change anything about how I am commended to live? It never ceases to amaze me how easily we forget that every New Testament author died a martyr and most of them wrote from prison. Their letters were smuggled out and hand delivered to believers who met secretly in homes, at great personal risk. Not only was the first century church living without free speech, they had no concept of it, the fact that we have it now is no doubt a great gift from God but not something we should necessarily expect to continue. As for your second point, I think I addressed that in later posts. I should never have made my argument about left or right the message of Jesus transcends all that.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s