“The King in his might loves justice. You have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob” (Psalm 99:4).
Once upon a time, I had dreams of embarking on a political career post-college. I was sure I could make a difference, stand up for truth and justice, help make the world a brighter place.
In other words, I was young.
By God’s grace, he called me into ministry (and NOT politics). And as a minister of the gospel, I believe that God’s grace and redemption is available to all, regardless of political affiliation or ideology. In order to maintain my witness to people on both sides of the political aisle, I do my best to avoid commenting on all things political. The gospel is bigger than ideology, the kingdom of God greater than that of this world.
The Bible is not an ideological document. But it has plenty to say about politics. Our psalm today focuses on God’s love for justice and calls us to worship him because of it. Scripture tells us we should respect the authorities in our world as God-ordained, that we should live peaceful and quiet lives, but that we should by no means swallow whatever spin we’re fed. We are to be gentle as doves, but wise as serpents. We should be cunning enough to undress the faulty arguments of our day, exposing them for their hypocrisy and self-seeking. And we should affirm common grace when we see it, admitting that some arguments out there in the world ring true.
So, when I saw this video by some of the Occupy crowd called “Life Under Capitalism,” I thought it as good a time as any to post it and comment briefly.
Now, I haven’t been following the whole Occupy thing too closely, and am not entirely sure what their goals are. But this video has a ring of truth to it. How many people around us feel the need to work constantly, never feeling free to rest, never feeling their day’s work was sufficient? Whether it’s the squeeze of a high cost of living, the struggle of more debt than can be repaid, or the message of our consumer culture that we always need a bit more, “Life Under Capitalism” expresses what many no doubt feel. Few in our day are willing to point out the underbelly of capitalism. The fact that these street performers did so is worth applauding.
Of course, one and a half minutes is not enough to offer an alternative vision for ordering society. The message of the video is critique, not construction. Perhaps these guys are lazy bums, wanting little more than a government handout. Perhaps they are revolutionaries calling for a socialist system that will impose equity whether we like it or not. (I’m no socialist, but notice that Psalm 99:4 says that the King establishes “equity.” That isn’t a biblical call for Marxism, but it’s at least worth noting.)
What frustrates me is when Christian bloggers post simplistic, knee-jerk reactions to such common grace wisdom. The video critiques capitalism. The creators must, therefore, be socialists. And who wants socialism?
I agree with the blogger’s assertion that “work and then die” is a result of the fall. And I agree that we should communicate to our unbelieving friends that our hope must lie beyond this world, that no political order will bring about the peace and justice every human heart desires. But are our only options capitalism or socialism? As those whose minds have been renewed in Christ by the power of his Spirit, is it enough for us to affirm the status quo and hold on until the Second Coming?
Biblical faithfulness does not equate to ideological capitalism. Capitalism is a result of the fall. It is a human attempt at justice that is fundamentally flawed—every bit as flawed as socialism. As Christians, we should feel free to say so.
Our citizenship isn’t of this world. Neither is our King. Jesus doesn’t like capitalism any more than the Occupy folks. He loves the justice and equity that come with his kingdom. So should we. And we should tell our Occupy friends and their capitalist opponents the good news of the kingdom. Perhaps the gospel is powerful enough to even change their hearts and make them love justice and equity too.