Thursday, April 16, 2015

What we do with our bread

10 And the crowds asked him, "What then should we do?" 11 In reply he said to them, "Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise." 12 Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, "Teacher, what should we do?" 13 He said to them, "Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you." 14 Soldiers also asked him, "And we, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages."Luke 3:10-14
John the Baptist seems to be schooling the people of Judea in how to be decent people on one hand, and on the other, he seems to be asking them to be generous.   "If you have too much, give some to someone who doesn't have any." 
For the tax collectors, the bar was a bit lower, "just try not to cheat anyone."

If you told people this today, they'd probably cut your head off symbolically rather than literally, but the response really hasn't changed much.  Why should I give my bread to someone else?  To put it in terms of national policy, why should the government give my money to someone else? Who are these poor people and are they deserving?   What if I don't like them?  What if they're a different color than I am?  What if they do things I don't like with the bread (money) given to them? 

If you're a Christian, in this post John the Baptist world, the answer is that they are another sinner for whom Christ died.   They are Jesus Christ.  There's no other answer, if we're honest. We don't get to decide if they are worthy.  Jesus has already made them worthy the same way he made us worthy. 

I don't like it either.  I'd like a little more say in how it's all done.  Personally, for one thing, I'd like to see some of that tank money they pay for with my taxes headed to the SNAP program, but I don't get to decide.  That's the price I pay for living in a civilized society.  I realize the government isn't a religious institution, but we vote for the people running it, and feeding the poor is a Christian value.  We should advocate for that from our representative government, and live it in our private lives.  

If you have more than you need, give it to someone who needs it.  If you're in a less than honorable occupation, just try not cheat anybody.   

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