WHAT FORM OF GOVERNMENT DOES CHRIST HAVE?
36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. If Jesus returned today, which form of government would He choose? John 18
When Jesus walked the earth many thought, particularly the Jews, that He would save them from the tyranny of the Romans, and yet they misunderstood what His kingdom was about. All throughout history, man has attempted to create a form of government that might work. Most of the kingdoms of western civilization took on the form of a monarchy, with one great ruler at the throne. Sometimes, a dictator would rule the people, subduing all under his control, expanding their territory, with the common folk being left behind to pay the taxes, and working the land. And yet, there are many governments still in the world around us that have been formed and continue to act in these ways.
In its original form, communism sought to redistribute wealth and to bar social classes, where everything was shared with all. But we know, that ultimately, it failed as one or a few, took control over everything, and freedom was lost, and people were subdued in the process.
To quote Elizabeth Scalia, “Communism, attempted without the infinite capacity and infinite hope that comes from working with and for the infinite God, becomes a mere movement of man, consistent with the nature of man, which is imperfect, selfish, and self-rewarding.” And furthermore,
“The state, man-made, cannot embody the greatness the communist promises. All states, all governments, eventually evolve into some Democratic-and-quasi-Capitalist amalgam or they collapse beneath the weight of corruption, for no human being is all-good, and where humanity “may” fail, it eventually will.” One ultimately needs to surrender their wealth in order for the system to work, and very few are willing, or in a position to do this.
Throughout the book of Acts we see that many shared all things in common. 32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Acts 4
There were pockets of people who continued to follow in the teachings of Jesus, and these found a way to live out their lives in this way. But throughout the centuries, eventually this form of sharing everything was replaced, as people were displaced by the spread of various kingdoms and wars.
But Jesus instructed, “If you will be perfect, go and sell that you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me” Matt. 19: 21
Loving one’s neighbor and giving to the poor certainly fits within a socialist model. Think of programs such as Medicare and Social Security, which provide healthcare and financial stability to the elderly and those in need. Next think of labor unions fighting to bring fair wages and to rein in corrupt capitalists. This looks like caring for the poor and needy.
No form of government is ultimately benevolent enough to take care of the needs of all. Ultimately government is not the answer, for just as Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world, then no kingdom can truly give us freedom, security, and hope for all.
Certainly those that provide for the aging and care for the hurting, are noble in their efforts, but it all comes with a price. And the price oftentimes comes in the form of either paying for these services, or higher taxation. To be sure, Jesus is not against the wealthy or big business, but He would ask all to give to those who ask of him.
To say that He was a bleeding heart liberal, paints a picture of the Christ as one who would not stand up to the Pharisees or the teachers of the law. For we know that one who would turn over the tables of money-changers, certainly didn’t lack in boldness, nor in passion.
If He came into our churches today would He be welcomed? Would He need to wear a three-piece suit and shake hands with all that He met? As He found His seat amongst others at the pews, would He be ignored and shunned because of His appearance, or would we see the mark of royalty in Him?
All of the governments of this world will eventually pass away. It doesn’t matter if the land was democratic, autocratic, or socialist in nature. And then the final form of government will come, and it will far exceed anything that man could have conjured up in his feeble mind.
During His ministry, Christ emphasized the importance of helping people. He continually healed the sick and once provided food for the masses (Matt.14:15-21, 15:32-38). Jesus stated that He had “compassion on the multitude, because they continue with Me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way”(15:32)
In Matthew 10:42 , Jesus said that those who just give a drink of cold water to a child will not lose their reward: “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “socialism” as “a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies…(1) any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, (2) a system of society or group living in which there is no private property...”
Socialism’s mortal enemy is capitalist greed, which Jesus seemed to decry. Notice: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25)
Systems like this have certainly had their critics. Those governments that have practiced socialism have not brought about a utopian society. Corruption, poverty, and disease, have often led to their demise, and thus, the country has become.
The prophet Daniel confirms that God’s kingdom will not be left to men: “…the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (2:44) Christ will be a just, divine ruler—bringing true justice, equity, fairness and prosperity to all peoples. All forms of government are ultimately unsustainable and they simply end up being ineffective. It doesn’t matter if they are democratic or socialist in nature. All will be replaced by God’s righteous, divine government.
The prophet Isaiah tells us: "Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:2–3).
11 Thy gates also shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the wealth of the nations, and their kings led captive. 12 For that nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. 13 The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir-tree, the pine, and the box-tree together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious. 14 And the sons of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee The city of Jehovah, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 60
16 Thou shalt also suck the milk of the nations, and shalt suck the breast of kings; and thou shalt know that I, Jehovah, am thy Saviour, and thy Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. 17 For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron. I will also make thy officers peace, and [g]thine exactors righteousness. 18 Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, desolation nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise. 19 The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but Jehovah will be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy [h]glory. 20 Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself; for Jehovah will be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. 21 Thy people also shall be all righteous; they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. 22 The little one shall become a thousand, and the small one a strong nation; I, Jehovah, will hasten it in its time.