About once a quarter I see the picture of President Jimmy Carter circulating with a quote attributed to him abut using tax dollars to help the poor if we want to call ourselves a Christian nation. It has a certain ring to it. I respect the good works that President Carter has done since he left office. His grace and service and a wonderful model, but there are a couple of problems with the quote.
First, Jimmy Carter didn’t say this. It sounds like something that he would have said but he didn’t. Next, the principle being put forth is from the world not from God.
Hold your holy horses, Tom; how can you say that. It’s about helping the poor. C’mon that’s got to be directly from God.
God’s directions and the teachings of Jesus are given to us. We are to speak the truth, love our neighbor, help the poor, and bring people into the family of faith so that they know abundance. Abundant life is for all and the Lord’s directions are to his people. The problem with this quote is that it delegates loving our neighbor to our government.
When people are overlooked, we can blame the government. When people abuse the system, we can blame the government. We can wash our hands of this whole love your neighbor business and turn it over to the government.
That sounds like a plan and it is. It is just not God’s plan. We have conformed to the patterns of the world long enough. It’s time to get back to God’s way of helping the poor.
Do you realize that if every Christian tithed, yes tithe means 10% and you don’t have to tithe to receive your salvation, but if everyone Christian tithed, God’s storehouse would be full? What does that mean? The church could help the poor as it was designed to do.
Government programs would be next to irrelevant and God’s people who tithed would be blessed beyond measure. That’s God’s model.
If we want to be a Christian nation, we must first be a nation of Christians. A Christian by definition is one belongs to and who follows Jesus. Jesus is our Lord and Master. We obey his commands and they are not burdensome to us.
Christians don’t look to government for how to love our neighbor. We look to the commands of our Lord. If we truly follow Jesus, we will give far beyond the tithe and the poor need not be poor anymore. And let’s not forget, we won’t just give out food and money. We will bring people into the body of Christ where they will know true abundance that we know through inclusion.
President Jimmy Carter has been a wonderful model of Christian service over these past three decades. Let’s not discredit his good works by attaching faulty thinking to his picture. Let’s be a nation of Christians first. Being known as a Christian nation will follow.