Can we create a little heaven on earth? Can we have a utopian society where equality prevails in property, income, healthcare, and careers?
Can utopians claim “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” in the Lord’s Prayer? Will utopian socialism bring about a little heaven on earth?
Many claim that Christianity is the foundation of utopian socialism. They adhere to passages like Acts 4:32, 34, where it states, “All the believers were in one heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own . . . There were no needy persons among them.”
But this passage needs to be read in context. The Jerusalem believers sold property to meet the needs of the Jewish worshipers from various countries, who came to celebrate the First Fruits Festival. After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, many stayed beyond their available financial resources. Thus, “For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.” Acts 4:34, 35.
This sounds like Karl Marx’s axiom of “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs,” but his intentions and implementations are very different. There is a great difference between Marxist socialism and Christianity’s charity.
Socialism is a political/economic system that uses the power of the state to take and redistribute wealth from the wealthy to the needy. On the other hand, generous Christians redistribute their own wealth to those in need out of a love for God. They give to the needs of the poor as individuals or through the structured church.
Charity is a biblical principle of acts of kindness and compassion overflowing from a spirit of gratitude and blessings from God. In fact, everyone is to be involved in order to bless others by giving as they have ability (2 Cor. 8:3).
On the other hand, socialism, through taxation take the wealth one has earned and gives it to whomever the government deems fit. This is not Christianity. This is tyrannical socialism. Thus, socialism is not Christianity, but a counterfeit of Christianity.
Christian charity is much more effective and much less punitive. It starts with a heart willing to give. It works with the church or church agencies that are best able to meet the needs of those who are in “real” need, not those who take advantage of a “free handout.” The system works well in Cokato, where we are blessed to have an interchurch food shelf, Thrift Store, and benevolent fund to help people in times of need. The foundation of this charity starts with grateful givers who desire to share God’s love with their fellow man.
Jesus says He has come to bring peace with God through faith in Him, John. 16:31. When a person has peace with God, he has peace with himself. When one has peace with himself, he has peace to use his God-given gifts for others.
When one has internal peace, then he can have peace with another, even if the other is more wealthy than he. This inner peace then brings relational unity in marriage, in the home, on the job, at school, and in communities.
Thus, when the faithful Christian puts into practice the teachings of Scripture, they bring about “God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.” As a result, faithful Christians improve the lives of all the people around them.
I can hear some people raise the objections of the Crusades, Inquisition, religious persecutions, and other church atrocities. We must concede that these cruelties took place and were wrong, because the leaders lost their biblical focus and direction.
Biblical Christianity starts with the recognition that all humanity has sinned and is in need of a Savior. God, in His great love, sent His Son, Jesus, into this world to redeem us back to Him and through personal confession and faith, thus restoring our spiritual relationship with Him. He makes us into a “new creation” by changing our minds and hearts to display God’s love and peace in our society.
Jesus said that the peace He gives us is not that of our society, but from God’s kingdom. This peace is an inner peace, contentment, a heart of gratitude, a spirit of helpfulness that affects every aspect of worship and community charity.
Utopianism, progressivism, socialism, or Marxist socialism cannot come close to the spirit of charity in Christianity. It not only gives a man a “fish,” but also helps him “to fish.” It heals the very soul of humanity and gives real hope and change.
Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full,” John 10:10. So, don’t be deceived by counterfeits. Next time you hear what government can do for you, stop and remember how much more God can do for and with you. For only God can give you “a little heaven on earth.”