What You Can Do To Help Throw Out Washington Money Changers

0 Comment    Last updated: 2015-08-14 11:35:26


     Jesus went out of his way to avoid political issues - until it came to overturning the money changers in the temple.  He seemed to have fewer problems with Rome than he did with the self-righteous religious leaders who had manipulated the faith so that it provided them with prestige, power and wealth (John 2:15; Mark 12:40; Matthew 23:13; Matthew 23:23; Matthew 23:25; Luke 18:9-14).  Christians today need to be challenged to overturn the self-righteous / politically conservative money changers who will support any policy for votes.  They have thus politicized and adulterated the Christian name to make it about issues that are totally contrary to The Message of Jesus (e.g. gun rights), and instead use the faith of Christians to enrich and empower those same politicians and their cohorts.  
      
   When Jesus was asked whether Jews should have to pay taxes to Caesar, He said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Mark 12:13-17. The Jews hated Rome because Rome ruled their country, oppressed them, and made them pay Roman taxes, but Rome maintained civil order and did not interfere with the religious practices of the Jews.  In fact, the hated Herod the Great wanted so much to court the Jews that he rebuilt the temple, so that it was many times bigger and more magnificent than ever before (http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14304-temple-of-herod).  The Jews wanted a political leader who would free them from the Roman oppression, and many hoped that Jesus would be that savior, but Jesus told them, “My kingdom is not of this world.John 18:36 
 
   Yet, when Jesus saw the religious elite using the temple as a platform for their own lucrative business transactions, “he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.”John 2:15  He told them,“It is written, “’My house will be called a house of prayer’, but you are making it a den of robbers.” Matthew 21:13  Let this dramatic action of Jesus be our inspiration to stand up for His true message of grace, love, integrity, peace, and inclusion. 
     
     A monument in the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC reads:  “Thou shalt not be a victim.  Thou shalt not be a perpetrator.  Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.”  Hitler convinced thousands of God-fearing Christian people to be complicit in the murder of six million Jews and five million non-Jews (Gypsies, Poles, Communists, homosexuals, Soviet POWs, and the mentally and physically disabled.) Christians today need to avoid being bystanders to the unchristian ideology that is sweeping our nation under the political guise of Conservative Christianity.  Instead of a true Christian message of grace, love, integrity, peace, and inclusion, those who would use our faith for political gain are spewing hate for anyone and any idea that does not fit the conservative political viewpoint and policies that favor the wealthy and discriminate against anyone who cannot support their power. 

   The fact is that Scripture overwhelmingly contradicts the conservative policies. (Below is an extensive list of the words of Jesus regarding current policies.) Our wise forefathers made it clear in our Constitution that the government should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”  I believe that every person should have the right to believe whatever they want, even if some think it is strange, un-scriptural, or even vile, as long as it is not harmful to others; but no person should have the right to impose those beliefs on any other human being.  Christians who share my beliefs generally do not want to get in political debates with conservatives even if scripture backed them up.  We believe that the church should not be a platform for political debate. However, I am asking Christians to use the authority of the Holy Scripture to stand up, like Jesus did, to those people who use the Christian name for their own political gain, and in doing so have adulterated the message.
           
1.    We can begin by identifying true Christian causes such as healthcare for all, and attention to the needs of the poor, disabled, and infirmed. Reject, as Christ would have done, all discrimination (race, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation, physical or mental impairment.)  (See scripture below.)

2.    Before circulating political emails and statements, we need to check the facts with non-partisan groups like www.Politifact.com,  www.Punditfact.com, www.Snopes.com, and www.ChristiansForPoliticalTruth.com,  etc. Circulate only the truth, and when lies are circulated, spread the truth to every person who got the erroneous message.

3.    When any legislator makes it a point to say he or she represents Christians, but promotes policies that contradict the teachings of Jesus, we need to flood them with letters that use Biblical passages that support true Christian causes.

4.    We need to set up email campaigns that simply quote the words of Jesus related to specific humanitarian and non-discrimination issues.

5.    When legislators fabricate or distort facts, as is ever so common, we need to express in writing campaigns, to them and to their fellow legislators, that we won’t tolerate lies from public officials, particularly those who purport to be speaking for Christians.  Currently lies and slander have become such a way of life that even intelligent people believe them and seem to accept them as an accepted way of life.  I doubt that Jesus would have been so complacent. We don’t want to be like those who rallied with the religious leaders to crucify Jesus again.

6.    We need to organize and have progressive Christian rallies.

7.    We need to recruit prominent progressive Christians who might go on local and national talk shows to present the actual Biblical teachings about these issues and how they contradict the popular conservative political rhetoric.
 
8.    Christian groups, not a political party, need to support advertisements on the web and TV that point out scriptural support for Democratic causes.  
         
The following is a review of the words of Jesus as they pertain to many divisive political issues.

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE AND PAYING TAXES
:  Separation of church and state is a basic principal of our Constitution.  What exactly that means has been reinterpreted throughout our history.  Currently many politicians are seeking to make laws to enforce their specific religious view on matters of abortion, equal rights for gays and lesbians, evolution, and science, all based on narrow conservative religious beliefs.  
    
     Many of His followers wanted Jesus to be a political savior, but Jesus said his “kingdom is not of this world,” John 18:36. The most poignant scripture that pertains to how Jesus felt about mixing religion and law is when some religious leaders approached him asking if they should have to pay the imperial tax to Caesar.  To this-- a divisive political/religious issue of that day. Jesus replied, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Mark 12:13-17.  In other words, don’t mix religion and politics. Jesus stayed out of politics, but when he saw the temple being used for financial gain --he took action.  “So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables John 2:15.” I believe that American Christians should follow the example of Jesus.  Our outcry needs to be to “Overturn the money changers” who are using our faith as a political ploy to enrich themselves and buy positions of power.

DISCRIMINATION DUE TO SEXUAL ORIENTATION:  Contrary to what many vocal leaders would like you to believe, the Bible does not show that Jesus ever spoke a word about homosexuality. The Bible does say on many occasions that Jesus knew what people in his audience were thinking. We therefore must assume that he knew the hearts and behaviors of the homosexuals in the audience as well.  So if Jesus knew they were there, why did He not call them out, like Conservatives of today would do in His name? Perhaps homosexuality was not such a big issue for Him.        

    Only four verses out of 31,173 verses in the Bible actually condemn homosexuality. Two of those verses are credited to Moses and appear alongside other admonitions like “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.” Leviticus 20:10.  For a complete review of what the Bible does say about homosexuality, and ways that Jesus handled related laws, visit www.ChristainsForPoliticalTruth.com/homosexuality. Pope Francis, who is deemed “too liberal” for Conservatives like Sarah Palin (http://thelead.blogs.cnn.com/2013/11/12/sarah-palin-taken-aback-by-pope-franciss-liberal-statements/ ), said in July 2013 that the church was too obsessed about issues like, homosexuality, and “Who am I to judge them?” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/29/pope-francis-gays_n_3669635.html ).   
     
     It seems phenomenal that so many Christians have built their entire ministry around hate for homosexuality in the name of Jesus.  Hate was not in Jesus. But He did say, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mathew 7:21

DISCRIMINATION DUE TO SEXUAL BEHAVIOR
:  No person familiar with the story of Jesus could envision Jesus demonstrating for the right to discriminate against anyone.  Religious discrimination was rampant in the time of Jesus, and without fail Jesus blasted the pompous discriminators and stood up for those who were considered sinners, as well as the poor, infirmed, or the underdog. He was a true liberal rebel for his day, challenging religious bigotry to his death.  
      
      Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Matthew 7:1  The only people that Jesus ever criticized were the religious leaders who were self-righteous and made it a practice (like modern Conservatives) of pointing the finger at the sin of others. He called them “dead men’s bones in whitewashed tombs” Matt 23:27.  He told them “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3 When these self-righteous men brought a woman to him that was caught in adultery he told them,  “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7  One day when Jesus was eating at the home of a Pharisee, a sinful woman anointed his feet with an expensive jar of perfume.  The Pharisees were indignant that he did not admonish the woman.  Instead he told a parable about forgiving debt, then turned and told the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”  “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50  It would be nice if Christians today would follow the example of Jesus and see people for what is in their heart rather than discriminate against them for their sexual behaviors or if they had an abortion. 

SELF-RIGHTEOUS BEHAVIORS AND CONDEMNATION: Everyone in Jesus day hated the tax collectors. They were classified right along with prostitutes (Matt 21:31).  Rome allowed them to keep any money that they collected above what Rome required, so they enriched themselves by cheating people.  Yet Jesus would not discriminate against them just because of their cheating behavior. He made one of them, Matthew, his disciple (Matthew 9:9), and invited himself to dinner with a chief tax collector, Zacchaeus (Luke 9:1-10). He told a parable of a Pharisee and a tax collector praying in the temple.  The Pharisee made a point to show off his purported righteousness, while the tax collector was humble and repentant. Jesus then concluded, “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:9-14).   In Jesus’ own words he described what people were saying about him: “They say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’Matthew 11:19   This sounds like the slurs that Conservatives throw at President Obama or any person who does not share their ideological beliefs.  So I find great comfort knowing that we are in company with the saints when men condemn us and say all kinds of lies against us for our efforts to do what we believe God wants us to do.

DISCRIMINATION DUE TO RACIAL OR CULTURAL DIFFERENCES:  In the time of Jesus the Samaritans were hated by the Jews because they were half-breeds, yet Jesus never discriminated against them.  Instead he ministered to a sinful Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-42).  It was against the cultural rules of the time for a Jewish man to speak to her because she was (1) a woman, (2) a Samaritan, (3) a sinner, and (4) because she was alone, yet he saw beyond the surface and offered her “living water” John 4:10. Jesus used the parable of the ‘Good Samaritan’ to demonstrate what it means to be a good neighbor. This demonstrated that we should look beyond the race or culture. Jesus said in 1 John 3:17, “If anyone sees a person in need and does not have compassion, God cannot be in him.”  Yet, thousands of suffering children who had traveled alone all the way across Mexico to the land of opportunity to escape gangs, violence, and war, were met with hundreds of so-called Christians, chanting and holding placards to ridicule them and turn them away in the name of Christ.  This is the ultimate in anti-Christian behavior!   
  
DISCRIMINATION DUE TO POVERTY: Jesus said, “Be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you. Luke 11:41 Jesus told the rich young ruler, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Matthew 19:21 Jesus said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” Luke 4:18 Jesus told the Pharisee who was hosing a dinner, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, …, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14 “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Matthew 10:42 “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”John 13:35    “One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.” Proverbs 22:16  

WEALTH AND CORPORATE GREED
: Jesus promised us many things: love, hope, peace, forgiveness, and grace; but there is nowhere in the Bible where Jesus promised wealth.  In fact he spends a great deal of his time warning about the trap of wealth.  He does not say that it is wrong to be wealthy, but here are some samples of what he does say about money:    
You cannot serve both God and money.” Luke 16:13   Jesus said to the Pharisees who loved money, “What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.” Luke 16:15   Jesus told a parable of a rich man, Lazarus, who lost salvation because he did not show compassion for a beggar who sat at his gate. Luke 16 NIV   9Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:9-10 NIV   In Luke 12, Jesus said, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Jesus then told a parable of a rich man who had an abundant harvest and decided to store it up so he could eat, drink and be merry.  20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:19-21   Jesus told another parable of seeds that fell into thorns, saying, The deceitfulness of wealth chokes the word, making it unfruitful. Matthew 13:1-23  NIV   Jesus warned against the teachers of the law because, “They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.” Mark 12:40  This sounds like it is describing those today who would set up lucrative financial institutions that would prey on the poor, repossess their houses, take away resources for the poor and middle class, yet refuse to pay taxes on their wealth.  

   A rich man asked Jesus how he might be saved. Jesus told him, “Sell all you have and give to the poor.”; Matthew 19:21  NIV    “Truly, I say unto you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:23   Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” Matthew 19:23-24   A week before He was crucified Jesus overturned the money changers in the Temple Courts because they were making the temple a “den of robbers.” Mark 11:17 Christians need to stand up to corporate greed and those who twist the meaning of Christianity and use our name for monetary and political gain. 
       In spite of these overwhelming admonitions against the love of money, millions of Christians flock to mega-churches who preach that God rewards the generous giver.  Listen to clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLWm48fhCGQ.  Any political platform that focuses on giving more wealth to the already wealthy and making sure that they do not have to pay as much tax as the middle class, is not of God.  Jesus condemned it repeatedly and he did not waste words. 

EQUALITY IN SOCIAL PROGRAMS: “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just”. Luke 14:13 &14 “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39  “So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you.” Matthew 7:12  “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” Matthew 19:21   PEACEMAKING, NOT WAR-MAKING/ WEAPONS:  Republicans are generally quick to go to war.  Jesus said, Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God”. Matthew 5:9 “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despite-fully use you, and persecute you; Matthew 5:44 One of the Ten Commandments is, “Thou shall not murder.” Exodus 20:13 Jesus repeated the commandment in Mark 10:19.  Conservatives are quick to apply this to abortion, but not to capital punishment or war where thousands of innocent people as well as dedicated soldiers will be killed.

WEAPONS AND GUN CONTROL:     In the Garden of Gethsemane when Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the High Priest, Jesus told him, “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Matthew 26:52

SPEAKING THE TRUTH: This is not a political issue, but it should be.  Some politicians have lied so often that they do not seem to feel any need to look up the truth.  Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness. 2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, 3 and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit.” Exodus 23:1-3  

Proverbs 6:17-19 says: ”There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
17         haughty eyes,
        a lying tongue,
        hands that shed innocent blood,
18         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19         a false witness who pours out lies
        and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”


     If all Americans, (citizens and politicians), would follow this proverb our lives and our political process would be much more effective and fair. 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." Matthew 7:15-19

     Instead of living in truth, many politicians seem to feel that they can manufacture facts and not be held to the standards that Christ set.  Those who circulate the lies without checking them out are also at fault.  Any worthy Christian cause can stand on its own and does not need to be propped up with lies.              

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