Yesterday, the pistol packing president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr., took to Twitter to lambast Senators Collins, McCain, and Murkowski for not voting in favor of ripping healthcare away from millions of Americans.
It’s an odd thing to be outraged about considering Falwell is a self-professed follower of Jesus. You know, that guy from Nazareth who said getting into heaven depends on whether or not we care for the least of these.
Falwell followed his indignation up with this tweet.
Again, another odd sentiment. You would think a guy who’s so emphatic about government being involved in women’s healthcare would be totally fine with government being involved in healthcare in general.
But I guess that’s not the case.
Anyway, Jerry encouraged anyone who was listing to give some thought to this particular tweet and his point about Jesus, the sick, and government.
So, I thought I would take him up on the challenge.
Jerry is absolutely correct that Jesus told us to care for the sick and the poor. In fact, it’s something he talked about over and over again. In Matthew 25, Jesus even went so far as to say if we don’t care for the least of these – wherever they may be, whoever they be, and however we may need to do it (that’s what “whatever” entails) – then we’ll end up joining the goats in, well, not heaven.
Jerry is also technically correct that Jesus didn’t explicitly tell Caesar what to do. Though, like the president he idolizes, such a claim strains credibility. On the one hand, Jesus did talk a whole heck of a lot about the kingdom of God and claiming that you’re instituting a new kingdom in the face of an already existing kingdom – you know, the one Caesar was in charge of – goes one big step further than telling Caesar what to do. It’s telling Caesar what he does or doesn’t do doesn’t really matter because there’s a new king in town and he’s bringing a his new kingdom with him.
But even though Jesus didn’t give any explicit commands to Caesar, he did talk about his disciples’ relationship with Caesar and Caesar’s government.
In Matthew 22, Jesus’ best buddies, the Pharisees, approached him with a question about taxes. “Teacher,” they said, “tell us what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?” Given all his “my kingdom is not of this world” talk, you wouldn’t be blamed for expecting Jesus to respond with something like, “Of course not, guys. Taxes are the worst and in the kingdom of God there are no taxes!!” Sadly, that’s not what he said.
Knowing his old pals the Pharisees were trying to entrap him with his own words, Jesus responded instead with the immortal words, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and render unto God that which is God’s.” Or as I believe The Message translates it, “Dude. You’ve gotta pay your taxes.”
Now, as Jerry implored us to do, it’s time to give these two matters some thought.
As the Bible teaches us, Jesus is clear that caring for the sick and the poor is a fundamental, non-negotionable, absolutely essential part of being his disciple. He also makes it clear in Matthew 25 that this call to care for the least of these is “whatever” call, meaning whatever the circumstances, whatever way we have to do it, whatever the need of the least of these is, there is no excuse for not caring for them because to not care for them is to not care for Jesus.
Regarding the second matter, as middle school government class taught us, taxes go to pay for a whole variety of government services that provide for the common good, everything from roads and fire departments to schools and…SPOILER ALERT…healthcare for the poor and the elderly.
I could stop here and point out that the early church was all about individuals contributing their finances for the common good, but I don’t want Jerry accusing me of being a communist, so let’s just stick with Jerry’s own logic.
According to Jerry, Jesus wants us to care for the least of these.
Also according to Jerry, when we talk bout caring for the least of these, we need to take into consideration what Jesus said about government.
Well, Jesus said we should pay our taxes.
And our taxes are used in part to care for the least of these.
Jesus said we should care for the least of these in whatever way we can.
Which means, after giving it some thought using Jerry’s own logic, it sounds to me like using our taxes to care for the least of these is exactly what Jesus would want us to do.
I just never realized how obvious it was till Jerry encouraged me to give it some thought.
Thanks for that, Jerry!
You really are a great educator.