A Christian’s Responsibility in Economic Inequality | Teen Ink

A Christian’s Responsibility in Economic Inequality

February 7, 2021
By serenapei123 PLATINUM, San Jose, California
serenapei123 PLATINUM, San Jose, California
24 articles 5 photos 0 comments

The Bible retells numerous instances where Jesus expresses disbelief regarding perhaps the most valued worldly object during the time and even today: money. In a world directed by economic inequality, this fickle value is responsible for devastating depressions, human anxiety, and heated disputes. Especially in the United States, one of the top nations of industrialization and technological advancements, religion is declining at a frightening pace due to astounding levels of economic inequality. In the face of economic inequality, the Lord calls all Christians to initialize reform in a wide variety of subjects and magnitudes, including those on a societal, communitarian, or personal level. Whether poor or rich, all Christians should help society, be active in their own communities, and nurture a meaningful relationship with God; work together to create change; obtain wealth through honest means; and perform both personal and public philanthropy.

Affluent Christians can benefit society by performing philanthropy, be active in their communities by providing economic support, and build a relationship with God by living by His word. Jesus tells his followers to invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind as they can be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. (New International Version, Luk. 14:7-14) Even in an industrialized setting in America where efforts were most likely repaid fairly, the Bible motivates Christians to give without taking back. They should set aside much of their money for those in less fortunate situations, according to Jesus’ teachings of philanthropy. Additionally, during the Panic of 1873, 1893, and 1907, J.P. Morgan and his business partners rescued the railroad system, federal government, and economy from severe bankruptcy. (Larry and Michael Allen, 450) As one of the richest men of his generation, J.P. Morgan used his personal wealth to guide the country, which was his “community,” in a sense. Similarly, wealthy Christians should allocate a certain portion of their money to serve their own community and fulfill God’s commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal. 5:14-15) Lastly, Jesus commands Christians to surrender their financial and moral worth because power or wealth tend to lessen the need for God in their lives. (Timmy Keller, 145) In other words, if people still prioritize their status or belongings before Christ, they would have no reason to even seek God at all. They need to first shift their attention away from financial and moral worth and toward spiritual worth, accepting the fundamental “need” for God in their personal lives. An affluent Christian should overcome the physical and spiritual obstacles preventing them from accepting God wholeheartedly in order to gain the right into God’s Kingdom.

Although less privileged in some ways, poor Christians should help society by initiating ideas, contribute to their community by giving to a neighbor, and strengthen a relationship with God by asking Jesus. During the Gilded Age, poor people and immigrants lived in tenements, which were overcrowded apartment buildings often times with inadequate plumbing and ventilation. Jane Addams stated that the feeble, poor, and suffering are only fulfilling their fundamental obligations when they study social issues and trace poverty back to its contributing sources (Addams, 5) Namely, underprivileged Christians should seek improvement in the quality of life by searching for the root of their problems, which may not always be apparent to privileged people. They should take initiative and advocate for social change to correct a flaw in human society. Next, Jesus applauds a poor widow who offered everything she had. (Mrk. 12:43-44) God believes quantity to be less important than the intent, so someone who gives less with more compassion will always be better than someone who gives more but with less compassion. Likewise, Christians with less material possession can achieve the Kingdom if they sacrifice what they have with compassion to a neighbor who is less fortunate than them. Finally, Priest Maxwell concludes that Christians should always ask the Holy Spirit to guide them and act accordingly no matter what the consequences are. (Sheldon, 3) In regards to solidifying a personal connection with God, poor Christians should pray in desperate situations. Praying can guide them on the right path and strengthen their relationship with the Father through the Holy Spirit.

Joining together, wealthy Christians and poor Christians should initiate even greater social reform. The Social Gospel Movement, led by Rauschenbusch and Gladden, examined how the words of Jesus could be applied to societal issues. During this movement, Jane Addams introduced the Hull House for immigrants and the poor, Dwight L. Moody advocated for revivalism, the Young Men’s Christian Association founded infrastructure to encourage physical activity for health, and the Salvation Army provided food and shelter for the destitute. (Wright, 173) These endeavors targeted for the poor almost all required large amounts of funding from wealthy Christians. For instance, the Salvation Army fused together their evangelical missionary heritage with their wealth by offering food, shelter, and daily necessities to the “lower strata of society.” (Briggs, 708) In addition, Addams claimed that the poor have an obligation to create solutions based on their perceived flaws in society, “increasing the positive value of life.” (Addams, 3) So, a collaborative effort with the impoverished pitching reform ideas and the rich funding them will create drastic benefits for society in the long run. Jesus tells his followers that everything they do for someone else in need will also be for his Father. (Matt. 25:31-46) In other words, these efforts will not only improve society but will also please God Himself.

Some people of extreme wealth such as John D. Rockefeller obtained a monopoly of their own through conspiracy, such as gaining the favor of government to set foreign taxes unreasonably high. (Zinn, 257) At the same time, Rockefeller also performed astounding levels of public philanthropy. (Schweikart and Allen, 450) However, Jesus commands all of his followers to always live with integrity (Pro. 10:9) Therefore, wealth from dishonest means defies God’s word, and Christians should never accept anything from an untrustworthy source.

Andrew Carnegie believed that philanthropy for personal means was meaningless, and that the only form of useful philanthropy was for public facilities or organizations. (Carnegie, 7) However, while public philanthropy certainly provides benefits for a larger population, personal charity should not be completely ignored. Jesus tells an expert of the law to have mercy on those who require assistance. (Luk. 10:25-37) So based on the Lord’s commandments, Christians would have a responsibility to help anyone in need, not only in selective instances. Also, Jesus commands Christians to do everything for the Lord, without the need for public attention. (Matt. 6:1-4) Therefore, Christians should perform personal philanthropy without expecting to receive any merit, as they will definitely receive merit from God.

By accurately fulfilling God’s commands for them, all Christians have the potential to enter the Kingdom of God. First, Christians of amazing wealth or power should offer their financial property to society, their community, and up to God. Second, impoverished Christians should identify flaws in society, help a neighbor, and achieve a connection with God through the Holy Spirit. Third, both poor and rich Christians should collaborate to perform beneficial works for society. Fourth, wealth of any level should always be obtained through honest means. Fifth, while most philanthropy should be dedicated to public facilities, some should be allocated for personal charity. By following His commandments and spreading His love, Christians will be one step close to entering the ultimate Kingdom of God.

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Works Cited

Addams, Jane. “Charity and Social Justice.” The North American Review, vol. 192, no. 656, 1910, pp. 68–81. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25106710. Accessed 27 Jan. 2021.

Briggs, Charles A. “The Salvation Army.” The North American Review, vol. 159, no. 457, 1894, pp. 697–710. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25103440. Accessed 28 Jan. 2021.

Carnegie, Andrew. “Wealth.” The North American Review, vol. 148, no. 391, 1889. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25101798. Accessed 30 Jan. 2021.

Keller, Timothy. Hidden Christmas: the Surprising Truth behind the Birth of Christ. Hodder & Stoughton, 2016. 

New International Version. Biblica, 2011. Bible.com, www.bible.com/versions/111-niv-new- international-version. Accessed 26 Jan. 2021.

Schweikart, Larry, and Michael Allen. A Patriot's History of the United States: from Columbus's Great Discovery to America's Age of Entitlement. Sentinel, 2019. Accessed 29 Jan. 2021.

Sheldon, Charles Monroe. In His Steps. Tate Publishing (UK), 2020. Accessed 29 Jan. 2021. 

Wright, Robert G. “Voluntary Agencies and the Resettlement of Refugees.” The International Migration Review, vol. 15, no. 1/2, 1981, pp. 157–174. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/ 2545334. Accessed 30 Jan. 2021.

Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States. Harper, 2017. Accessed 29 Jan. 2021.

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