Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Forced or Inspired?

I live in a part of the world where socialism and communism are the controlling views of most of the governments.
By this I mean that governments here believe that people must be forced by the government to be collectively good to others. There is no Fox news in Brazil or in most South American countries to debate this point.

Having been raised in the USA at the height of Capitalism's confidence and the belief in individual, voluntary goodness, It has been quite an opportunity to see these two opposing views of greater goodness in action. Here is what I see. (Admittedly, this is an over simplification but hopefully it serves to make my point)

Socialists and communists are convinced that societies left the themselves to be good will always be more bad than good because the rich will oppress the poor. They are so committed to this view that they are willing to risk life and limb to put the socialist or communist government in charge of enforcing goodness. Once they take control of the government for good as they envision it, they will risk everyone else's life and limb to make sure their idea of good is forced on everyone from then on. Hugo Chavez comes to mind.

Pure capitalists, on the other hand, see being good as an individual option after individual earnings. They start with freedom to earn and then work at freedom to give. They want to be free from any interference with earnings or giving. They alone will decide what being good looks like. Bill Gates comes to mind.

Is either of these positions the Christian position? No.

Jesus taught us that true goodness is an inspiration that comes only from connection to God through Him. It has nothing to do with force or individual freedom. It has everything with love and living connection to God. Jesus made this clear when He said, "Without me you can do nothing." John 15:5 Jesus taught us that being good comes before either dominant government or unlimited earnings. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness..." Matt. 6:33

I personally believe that arrogant socialism and communism are more dangerous and destructive than self-centered capitalism. Chavez makes me more nervous than Bill Gates. I see less real good coming from governments who are filled with the arrogance that they control good and can force good out of others than I see coming from capitalists counting their money and thinking about maybe being good when they have enough. Simply put, I prefer having been born in Miami than further south in Cuba. I would prefer that for my grandchildren, too.

Which system does God prefer? Neither. He has His own Kingdom and will settle for nothing less than pure goodness. He will judge all men by the inspirational system of "Christ in you the hope of glory." Goodness is neither forced on left up to us to decide if we want to participate in it or not. Goodness is a Person named Jesus and He invites us to connect Him not to power or money. If we do not, then we will never know the goodness we all agree needs to exist among men.

Here is the interesting thing. I have now lived in both man driven goodness systems. I pay taxes in both systems. I have found that I can be inspired for good by Jesus in either system. In the end, inspiration in Jesus wins. The day may soon come when one system replaces the one where you live. If you are inspired in Jesus, you will find you can find inspiration to deal with either. I think that is what He had in mind when He said "Folow me" or "Abide in Me." That sounds good to me.

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