Lee Harder, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Bulverde, Texas back from a week off spending time with my oldest daughter and, now, fiancée.
I was somewhat surprised this past week when confronted by a true-blue, dyed in the wool, spirited millennial socialist. She clearly informed me that after 40 years of ministry, I was still ignorant about who Jesus is and where He would be, politically — progressive, naturally. Who would have suspected a doctor’s waiting room to be a venue for political debate?
In attentive silence I allowed her the floor to inform me of all my mistakes of interpretation in not informing people of the real Jesus. Jesus was obviously a socialist as she counted off the proofs, leaving me exposed to her truth.
#1 Jesus condemned the wealthy.
#2 Jesus elevated women over men.
#3 Jesus was an environmentalist.
#4 Jesus supported community ownership.
As I waited, it pleased me she knew of Jesus, even if she didn’t really know about Him. When she paused to take breath, I indicated just a moment of her time for a thought.
First, I don’t believe Jesus was political — render onto Caesar what is Caesar’s & to God what is God’s — doesn’t sound all that political to me. But if I were to attach any kind of political type description to Jesus, it would be “conservative” not as today’s equivalent would I define it, but as God defines it — His way in all things or, if I’m being less sensitive to someone of another view, the right way which is God’s way.
Second, Jesus never condemned wealth, so He could be, I suppose, a capitalist. He did condemn the misuse of wealth by greed, selfishness & the like. Not the same.
Third, Jesus didn’t elevate women, He treated them as God intended, as equals in status. In fact, one could take that a lot further by saying Jesus treated all people with the same love & compassion regardless of their station in life. Hardly the progressive way which seems determined to create classes each pitted one against another. I’m sure Jesus spoke of unity.
The environment thing, I simply said Jesus walked because they didn’t have cars, but He did ride into Jerusalem. You should have seen the look I got & from someone so young.
Finally, as to the socialist ideal of communal ownership, the sharing & caring that was seen between the disciples & those that were there for them had its roots in hospitality, not an elite governing force to oversee the community’s sharing & caring by human standards, not Godly ones.
I spoke as quickly as I could, so my response was indeed brief. However, with each point, she became more observably hostile. Fortunately, I was called into the office before anything further happened. I wished her a pleasant day, which I’m sure I had already threatened.
I mentioned this exchange because in a matter of a few weeks, we will be voting in a mid-term election. Voters need to be informed voters. They should know the issues and the positions of the candidates they support. They say that this vote could determine the direction of our nation for decades to come. Maybe it will.
I just know that God would expect me to be knowledgeable and not be blinded by something that doesn’t matter, or worse, ignorant of positions that threaten our democratic principles. Our founding fathers held divine providence [God] as a blessing of guidance in the decisions we make. Any stance that endorses violence to accumulate power, the silence of all opposition simply because it is opposition & the abandonment of fundamental principles of government upon which our nation is founded should be held in contempt. Think on those things as you vote in November.
And those are my thoughts. God bless.
Pastor Lee R. Harder