“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. 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 wee you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.”
Every four years about this time I start hearing this conversation, or some form of it. If Jesus were here would he be registered as a Democrat or a Republican? Maybe he would have Socialist leanings so he would choose not to label himself as either. Would he even participate in the democratic process?
I like to think that he would participate in the process and cast a vote, and I bet he would keep his vote a secret. I’ve heard a strong argument that Jesus would be a Democrat. Look at his record. He was all about equal rights, helping the disenfranchised, feeding the poor and healing those who had no health insurance and who would use the ER for non-emergencies because they didn’t have a regular doctor to go to or any way to pay for it. Well, maybe he wasn’t an ER doc but he was all about healing not only their ailing bodies but also their damaged souls for the low, low price of go and sin no more or don’t tell anyone about this.
On the flip side I’ve heard an argument that Jesus’ call to take care of the poor, widowed and sick was not a request for government social services but a call to action for the church. One could argue that the church needs to step up and take responsibility for those in our society who can’t help themselves. The church needs to support the organizations that support unwed mothers, feed and shelter the homeless. A strong argument can be made that the Church can do a whole lot more.
Technically, the “church” wasn’t even invented yet when Jesus was spreading his message. His call to action was for his followers and disciples. But I get the point and I agree; the Church can and should be doing more. However, just saying yeah, the Church should be doing more is not enough. That is putting the task and responsibility of care-taking off on somebody else. Placing the burden of social services on someone else or someone official allows us to blame them (whoever them is) when we see someone homeless or a teenage mother keeping the same diaper on her baby because she can’t afford to change it every time it get’s soiled.
Christians, churches and private citizens need to do more in answer to Jesus’ call. But why stop there? If Jesus’ call to action was for the people, are politicians immune from doing their share? Shouldn’t they have to shoulder the burden as well? Should they have to serve in their communities and privately support charitable organizations as well as create laws and services that protect the disenfranchised? It’s both/and. Not either/or.
As Christians, is it our responsibility to support the legislation that protects the least of these? We’re all in this together. Rich, poor, Republican, Democrat, Christian, Jew, Muslim and everyone in between.
Doing the right thing is a group effort.