It's a cottage industry these days for people to wrench words and phrases and sentences out of their proper context in order to advance their ideologies. Thus, we come to an article posted at that bastion of balance, the Huffington Post, titled, Who Said It: Fox News or Jesus?
The author is upset by the language used by some Republicans appearing on Fox News regarding 'the poor'. And in reading the language, I can understand why he would be upset: considering the almost-weekly reports of welfare fraud and Social Security fraud and Disability fraud and other types of fraud we're treated to, those words are, sadly, true in many cases.
And the truth tends to be painful.
The author admits the following:
Here are some examples that Stewart and others have lifted up of language Fox News has aired to describe "the poor:" (emphasis mine).'Lifted up', or 'lifted up out of context'? Consider the source of the article and the sources the author used and come to your own conclusions.
And then the author goes to Scripture to defend his position; as per usual, he pulls Scripture verses out of context to try to make his point. This shouldn't surprise us a bit, since the author has no problem with words 'lifted out' of context regarding commentary on the Fox network, why would he have qualms about doing the same thing with Scripture?
Jesus' concern for the people didn't hinge on how many coins they had in their purses. His concern was their immortal souls. The 'good news' He brought to the people was the forgiveness of their sins, period. When He performed His miracles of healing and raising people from the dead, He did so not only because He felt compassion for the people – it was also as a display of His deity, a proof, if you will, that He was whom He claimed to be: God.
Consider what Jesus said to both the woman caught in adultery and the crippled man at the Pool of Siloam. In both cases, He warned them to 'go and sin no more'. Does anyone imagine that after He healed the lame, the blind, and the mute He would have condoned them continuing to beg for their food and drink – in fact, condoning theft and deception?
The author quotes from the story of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:21), then fails to point out the next verse, in which the ruler 'went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.' What Jesus had done was test the young man's resolve, not so that He would learn of them, but so that the young man would learn of them. The story is not, as the author and many more like him would want us to believe, a story about impoverishing yourself to benefit others; it's a story of self-analysis and understanding your own sinfulness.
Jesus, being God Incarnate, could have easily dropped a sack of gold on everybody in Jerusalem and Judea and Galilee. He didn't. Being God Incarnate, He could have gone to Rome and demanded Caesar create a poor-fund for the impoverished of the Empire. He didn't.
Why didn't He?'
Because that wasn't His job. His job wasn't eliminating material poverty, it was eliminating spiritual poverty. He laid the mandate for material assistance on the shoulders of the people themselves – not the government, but the people, because it's the people who are 'on the ground', who are aware of the need, who know how much, when, and what is needed. That's our job – not our government's, ours – and we've thrown that job away by allowing – even encouraging – others such as the government to do it for us.
The author wants to have 'honest discussions' about poverty. Perhaps he could begin with being honest about the Bible, if he wishes to bring it into the conversation. After all, if we wish to bring up the theology of Jesus, we ought not to study it through social-gospel-tinted glasses.
(* Matthew Henry)