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A Christian World Vision

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I often debate with fellow Christians who, contrary to me, oppose migration from poor countries to rich countries, aid from rich countries to poor countries or that rich countries should take greater responsibility for the environment than poor countries by living simpler. When I argue for why I think these ideas are good, I often point to facts and statistics that for example show that poor countries receive 80 % of all refugees today, or that aid donations are less than 0.3 % of rich countries’ GDP, or that environmental pollution kill more people today than malaria and HIV. Quite often I even have to start with explaining that rich countries are rich; most xenophobic people here in Sweden think that Sweden isn’t a rich country, which of course is the opposite of what the Global Wealth Report recently stated.

However, while I believe these facts are important for the discussion, they are seldom sufficient for my adversaries to change their mind. I find over and over again that even if we can agree upon that the world is unequal and unfair, they don’t have a problem with that while I certainly do. We have different world visions, and they often tell me that I shouldn’t claim that my world vision is more Christian then theirs.

But it is.

Jesus’ ethical teaching is clear and straightforward. Do to others what you would have them do to you (Mt 7:12). That’s a universal command, meaning it applies to all human beings. We should love everyone, even our enemies, and do good to them just as the Father loves and does good to all human beings (Mt 5:43-48).

Jesus’ economic teaching is also very clear: blessed are the poor but woe to you who are rich (Lk 6:20-24)! He told His disciples to sell what they have and giv to the poor (Lk 12:33), which they interpreted as practicing community of goods where nobody is rich and nobody is poor (Acts 2:44-45), just as Jesus had had a common purse with His disciples (Jn 13:29). The apostolic teaching emphasized simplicity and generosity (1 Tim 6:8-10, 17-19) and the early church organized aid collections from richer churches to poorer in order so that “there may be equality” (2 Cor 8:14).

The ethical teaching is undoubtedly connected to the economic teaching. If we do to others as we would have them do to us, and we don’t want to starve, suffer or be oppressed, we ought not cause starvation, suffering or oppression to anyone no matter who they are. If we love everyone as ourselves, we cannot allow anyone to be poor or persecuted, and we must clothe, feed and house them in accordance with the commands of Jesus in Matthew 25. As John says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 Jn 3:17)

Now, some may point out that while the ethical commands may be universal, several of the economic ones that I have quoted deal with Christians specifically. Acts 2:44-45 describes a Christian church, so does 2 Cor 8:14 and 1 John 3:17’s “brother” probably refers to a fellow Christian. Thus, one may say, the New Testament’s vision of economic equality does not apply to all human beings.

To that objection I want to ask: where is the Scripture that states that Christians should have it better than everyone else? Or that poverty should be allowed among non-Christians? Yes, the early church prioritized fellow Christians since they had an existing network of daily or weekly interaction, but this was a priority of order, not of value. See, there’s a difference between helping your child of a shipwreck before helping strangers, and helping your child and then ignoring helping strangers (or stealing stranger’s pocket money to give to your child).

It’s evident that Paul talks about a priority of order when he writes: “let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Gal 6:10) and “always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” (1 Thess 5:15). That is, Christians ought not to have different ethical standards for believers and non-believers, even if it is natural for us to start with our own group.

The same logic is true for the often misquoted 1 Tim 5:8: “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Paul’s point here is that the common purse of the church should primarily benefit widows who have no relatives, i.e. those in most need, rather than widows with relatives since their relatives have a moral obligation to help their relatives. Paul’s point is not that everyone should make sure that their relatives have a much higher standard of living than everyone else. It’s a priority of order, not of value.

What does this then mean to our world vision? It means that we should promote a more equal world, by starting with the church. I have previously proposed a plan for a much more equal global church, and we should really start working towards that. But it is also in perfect accordance with Christian ethics and economic teaching to support a world where the West is not exploiting the Rest, where rich countries live more simply and when poor countries develop sustainably, and where poor and persecuted migrants are allowed to migrate to rich and safe countries.

In fact, seeking a world where white people are much richer than everyone else, and whose wealth is dependent on the exploitation and suffering of millions of black and brown people, is not Christian. This is why a Christian world vision cannot accept the status quo, but needs to change it.

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10 Comments

  1. Agent X says:

    I love your posts (in case I have not said that before). Thank you.

    I see the difference between quoting stats and quoting Jesus – even when they seem to point us in the same direction. I too prefer quoting Jesus, though the stats are still vitally important.

    It should be enough for Christians to listen to Jesus and think, Oh yeah… we want to be like him and join what he does.

    That said, your post causes me to recall the passage from Exodus 19:6. Israel is always meant to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. God never intended Israel to exist for Israel’s own benefit, but for the benefit of all creation. Israel’s suffering benefits all creation. Israel’s worship benefits all creation. Israel forgets this or ignores it throughout much of Israel’s history. I think Christians of the Rich West do likewise.

    Must my two bits…

    Thank you for posting…

  2. Jason smith says:

    Completely agree with your post brother. World wide we blame those who are poor for all of the worlds wrongs, or those that are different, if we are to love our enemies how can we not love someone who is just yet to be a friend. Does the Good Samaritan teach us nothing? 50% of the worlds wealth is owned by 1% of the worlds population and we argue against people who have nothing instead of querying why we are hating the poorest, have we been so brainwashed by the 1% to hate the 99%, when all we need to do is love the 100% unconditionally and see Christ being diffused with that love. Bless you brother

  3. D-Bo says:

    The reason you get opposing views is this: When Jesus was instructing an individual or a small group, there is every indication that He was directing His message to INDIVIDUAL behavior. I do not recall Jesus ever telling someone that he and his nation of 1.2 million people need to change their behavior towards some 90,000 refugees who are invading the country—even though the refugees are hostile to Christianity and will kill their own relatives if one should convert to Christianity. Also, the refugees have no intention of assimilating into the existing culture.

    What I do recall is that Jesus told individuals what they should do toward another individual or perhaps a family. I do NOT see any parallel between
    the advice of Jesus to an individual in the year 32 AD and Christian countries of 10 million people in 2015 AD— taking in 25,000 muslims who will never assimilate and nobody knows where they really came from. The CORRECT action would have been to take in the Christian Syrians when they were being driven to the top of a mountain and slaughtered by muslims—not radical muslims….just regular, devout muslims who were doing what their murderous religion required of them. Islam is not good for any society. There is no plus for having them in your midst, always wondering when your friendly muslim neighbor of 20 years will rise up one day and kill several families in the neighborhood..

    I know you like to promote PURE Christianity at all times. Well, pure means nobody should have a job and make money or buy a house or a car because that is selfish. We should all live like Mother Teresa or get stoned, beaten, jailed, and executed like Paul. Let the Russians, the Chinese, and muslims run the world. Some Christians just don’t like that idea, and there is no Biblical basis for living like cowards. It is very difficult to follow the Great Commission, huddled in caves, begging for mercy from our oppressors.

    • Jason says:

      Ok so Let’s unpack this. Saying that what a poor carpenter said 32 ad has relevance on today’s society? Well to me everything, He was not speaking to a small group of people He was speaking to the world, He is the son of God and is God. So I know anything he says has relivence in today’s society bacause without accepting what Jesus said is divine what else do we have. In the terms of giving everyone 50k blah blah blah, we live in a fiat society using fiat currency which is not real money (backed by anything) where the sum of the deposit in the bank on the whole is not kept by the bank but lent out to the poor of the society to keep them enslaved. Money is an iou from the government to you to say they owe you that amount of worth. Who is to say what worth it truly is. So why hold on so tight onto that iou from the government instead of helping your fellow man. As for Muslims, I honestly believe that Muslims have less threat in today’s society than atheists, look at what great works of genocide have happened in Russia China and nazi Germany and today’s most increasing religeon in the western world is atheism, yet and I say yet, we have to love both our brothers and enemies, there is no confusing the issue, the instructions on the box are very clear, unpack love and share with ALL. If someone is in a war torn country, broken down, travelling on a blow up dingy, fleeing for their lives, and you are in a comfortable warm home, with food in your stomach do you not feel responsible to share what you have with your fellow man? We are all created in gods image, we are all the same skin and bones, radical love is for all of His people. And finally I say bless you brother

  4. D-Bo says:

    Equality. If you could get it all equal, who would rule with an iron fist to KEEP it equal? There will always be lazy bums, gamblers, those who never invest in anything of value, alcoholics, drug users, whoremongers, and an endless suppy of fools who will lose their “financial equality” in one week. And entire countries who get conquered by another. What army will KEEP the equality going for all those I just listed? Getting it all equal is one goal(extremely naive)… keeping the equality…that is an impossible pursuit. I knew it was impossible at least 40 years ago. It is a silly conversation topic for idealistic teenagers. Nobody can keep a fool from going broke.
    If everybody on earth had exactly $50,000—no more, no less—in less than 24 hours, there would some with $200,000 and other who had $5.00 or
    even owed money!!

    • Jason smith says:

      Oh and btw d-bo Michael is not preaching communism in the current form, he is saying we have to help our common man, like me he believes in community communism, so groups coming together to live on a common purse earning the same wage is fine as long as you can choice to do that, governmental communism is very different and dangerous, for how do you enforce that without resorting to the extremes of Russia and China, in that system atheism is the religion. What Michael is talking about is helping out poorer people when you are richer not because you are forced to do so, but because it is right to do so, very different things

  5. Agent X says:

    Perfect love casts out fear. I John 4:18

  6. […] on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” As I explained in my article about a Christian World Vision, Jesus-followers should without doubt apply the same moralic standpoint on non-believers as […]

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The author

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Micael Grenholm - a Swedish charismactivist residing with the Jesus Army in the UK.

Check out my YouTube channel!

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