I have been re-reading The Universe Bends Toward Justice, by Obery M. Hendricks, Jr. (Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, 2011) It is a book I recommend highly. Hendricks has written a book that is “A provocative and persuasive primer on how to read the Bible faithfully and knowingly upstream against the religious pabulum that endlessly seduces us,” according the great biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann.
Hendricks helps us see that Jesus preached a “Kingdom” that is not abstract or in the hereafter, but is concrete and now. And in the Kingdom that Jesus envisioned for here and now, He sees a Kingdom that does not exploit people, that does not lord it over people, but that does work hard to eradicate the great disparities of poverty and wealth.
Jesus strongly taught against the undue amassing of wealth: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,” (Matt. 16:19) and “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed” (Luke 12:15).
He was lovingly strong when speaking to the elites: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle that for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:25). In Luke’s Gospel Jesus says “Woe to you who are rich…Woe to you who are full now” (Luke 6:24-25).
Jesus welcomed everyone to the banquet table and made no distinction between rich or poor.
This approach is so contrary to much of the political rhetoric today. Today it is much more common to hear that somehow the disparity in wealth and the growth in numbers of poor people is somehow the fault of poor people.
And the old adage that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer is just a truism that we need to live with. No! Not if we listen to Jesus and have the guts to bring His message to bear on the political landscape of today.
As the political season heats up, I urge you to focus on the words and actions of Jesus as a foundation for all political decisions you make. And consider reading Hendricks’ wonderful book.