Tag Archives: charity

Bill Lockwood: Illegal Immigration and Christianity

by Bill Lockwood

I worship with a church that supports a missionary family in Cape Town, South Africa. Several churches of Christ in the United States have pooled their resources to finance the work there, which includes feeding the poor in a soup kitchen, providing shelter to those who live in cardboard boxes, and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to them. The giving of our finances in the church is, of course, strictly voluntary.

What do Americans think of my preaching that we all need to assist the poor in foreign countries and “preach good tidings” to them? Obviously, they recognize that is my right. Most would probably agree that such works need be funded by American dollars.

But it is also their right to reject that work. They may prefer works closer to home than South Africa. What then if, in reaction to their rejection, I would then insist that all MUST give to this specific work or be counted as unchristian and hard-hearted? I could add some biblical warnings about assisting others in need and threatening the judgment of God if they did not.

Some may answer—“look here, we support other works that are just as charitable. Why do you insist that we participate in the specific work you and your church are engaged in?” That itself would be a charitable answer seeing the approach I had taken. Others would probably ignore me. Still others would rightly question my ability to think clearly.

Let’s take it one step further. Suppose I have influence through powerful lobbyists in the legislature of the State of Texas. Because of my frustration with my fellows for their “lack of compassion” to those in South Africa, I work through these lobbying influences until legislation is passed in the State that mandates portions of public tax dollars to the South Africa work. Now everyone WILL support the work that I have been preaching!

What Has Occurred?

First, no one could classify the money that comes because of legal action as “charitable giving.” Legislative action does not spawn charity. The very reason “legislation” is passed is to compel compliance. Money may flow and people may benefit—but charity it is not. It is redistribution by force. The socialists dream. Not only so, but no one in their right mind would consider forcible redistribution a part of the “charitable giving” of the Congressmen who so legislated. They will not write this off on their tax returns.

Second, the legislative action has a deleterious effect on real avenues of giving. As long as the government compels from me more money to apply to one specific work that bureaucrats have selected, my ability to give to other needs that I personally would rather support has depleted. And how many charitable works are there that the government demands I sponsor? As many as there are legislators. That being the case, how much of my own money do I have remaining with which to support works that I select? Other works are just as fine as supporting missionary work in South Africa, but they will have to do with less.

Third, are those who oppose the legislation that FORCES tax money to flow to South Africa “unchristian?” Are they “uncharitable?” Shall I go about bellowing how “unchristian” my fellows are because they oppose that specific piece of legislation? Since it is not charity to begin with, it hardly is logical to say that those who oppose it are stingy, greedy, unchristian Scrooges. Common sense and even-handed reasoning recognizes that many people support many different causes and if you do not support the cause which I prefer it does not make you unchristian.

The Border

Now look at the southern border. Border states have been crying for as long as I have been alive for the federal government to do its job and curtail illegal crossings. But no politician has been brave enough—or desirous enough– to get that job done–until President Trump. President Obama even single-handedly, without constitutional authorization, negated some of our own laws in order to allow more foreigners to pour into America.

Now we are told we need to assist these foreigners from poor countries because that is our Christian duty! Translation: this is the charitable work that the liberal intelligentsia has selected for you to participate in, and money will be forced from your pocketbook to sponsor it. Not only so, but these poverty-stricken people that beg to come in will be housed in your neighborhoods at your expense. If you have misgivings about it, you are unchristian. Christian duty demands open borders, so the story goes.

Here are some questions. If it is Christianity to force Americans to pull down our border fences, is it not also Christian duty to allow the poor to camp in your front yard? Does ‘Love your Neighbor’ mean pull down the fence? Why are all of those who preach “open borders” shored up behind walled communities and housing area, normally in white middle-class neighborhoods? Is it not hypocritical to demand your neighbors to care for the poor, while we do very little? Why have front doors on our homes?

Shall American families be required to sponsor various families from south of the border? If so, should these families be forced to adopt-a-family by bringing them inside your homes? If not, why not?

If one selects some other charity work instead of the “open borders” program, is that less charitable? Is it necessary to follow the government’s agenda in order to be charitable? What if, as a Christian, I am for closing the border completely and funneling my resources to care for the poor among us?

Would it not be better just to GO to the country of origin of many of these people and do voluntary charity work there?

If I do NOT give charitably, should the government take control of my finances to make me be more charitable? Would that be charity at all?

Modern Judas Politicians

Modern Judas Politicians

by Bill Lockwood

The text of John 12 is instructive insight into the distinction between true and false “compassion.” During the last week of our Lord’s life He came to Bethany where was a feast in his honor. At the somber meal, Mary, the sister of Martha, anointed the feet of Jesus with very expensive “pure spikenard.” It was a class of aromatic amber-colored oil the value of which was equal to a year’s wages for the common agricultural worker of the day (12:5).

Judas, the treasurer of the apostolic band, objected to such a lavish expenditure and queried why the ointment had not been sold for 300 shillings and the money given to the poor (12:5). John gives us this editorial note after years of hindsight, “Now this he said, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief and, being the keeper of the treasury, took away what was put therein.” Obama and company cares very little for the poor, in spite of multiplicity of speeches which portray himself as their champion.

It is easy to frame a grasp for power or wealth beneath a cloak of “compassion.” Judas’ words painted him as a one concerned “for the poor” but the reality was quite different. So also today our modern unconstitutional welfare state is driven by the same deceit. One cannot begin discussing, for example, the removing of taxpayer money from even the murderous Planned Parenthood without immediately facing the argument of “compassion” to woman’s needs which they are said to provide. How can we remove money from “the poor?”

The Democratic Party majors in this Judas-style question and the Republicans do their best to catch up by insisting that they are “compassionate conservatives.” But it is easy to be compassionate with others’ money, isn’t it? Added to that is the fact that our gargantuan welfare state, bloated out of reasonable financial responsibility bounds, is unable to even keep track of the billions of dollars flowing through the hands of bureaucrats who are the “keepers of the bag.”

Compassion
There is much spoken of compassion today but seemingly very little known. Some suppose that meeting physical needs of the American populace is to be prioritized over spiritual needs; others think that giving my tax dollars to Uncle Same satisfies the obligation to be compassionate; still others talk of the lack of compassion in those who wish to return to a Constitutional government in which it was illegal to redistribute taxpayer money to various special interest groups or segments of society.

First, true compassion is to be exercised at a personal level. Government programs are no substitute for true compassion. Actually, Uncle Sam’s programs are not really compassionate at all, but destructive to society. Witness the growing minority unrest in the inner city—many of whom are recipients of government handouts provided by other people. No one watching these riots unleash on the cities by destroying private property has the impression that the rioters are thankful for the provisions that have been given them by others. What is the problem? True compassion is a personal matter. In order to discriminate between those who are truly needy and those interested in bilking the system by refusal to work, personal contact is necessary between the given and the recipient.

Sometimes poverty comes upon people through no fault of their own. Fires, earthquakes, crippling accidents, deaths and diseases injure people. Christian charity is called for (1 Cor. 13:1-3). But on the other hand, according to the Bible, sometimes poverty is the due penalty for laziness. “How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, so shall thy poverty come upon thee like a robber, and want (lack) like an armed man!” Solomon insists that work is good for the soul.

The point is, how is one able to distinguish between those truly in need and those who are taking advantage of the system? Only by exercising compassion at a personal level, where people might know. As Marvin Olasky, former professor at the University of Texas at Austin, observes, failure to “establish personal relationships with recipients” means that one cannot “sufficiently discriminate between the needy and the lazy” (The Tragedy of American Compassion, 26).
Government programs absolutely violate this major component of personal contact between the giver and the recipient. And since the nature of mankind is such that man will live of the labor of others if that is possible, government or structural poverty only grows under the oversight of bureaucracy.

Second, true compassion recognizes that man’s most important need is spiritual. At one time, when churches were distributors of goods to the needy and not the government, spiritual emphases were in place. As a matter of fact, Jesus Himself criticized the crowds who came to him interested only in food and not spiritual nourishment (John 6:25-28). Instead of feeding them, He instructed them to “work” for spiritual sustenance. This is a shock to today’s society which lauds the person or agency which provides clean needles to the drug addict or contraceptives to the promiscuous and call it “charity.” This just shows that we have forgotten the true meaning of compassion.

In the end, all government programs accomplish—for poverty rates have remained unchanged since the advent of The New Deal and The Great Society—is accumulating power into the hands of the politicians. Exactly what Judas had in mind.  

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