Let me formally respond to this little meme, not that it shall do any good, but it’s good mental and spiritual exercise, and perhaps it will encourage others to think critically and to question and challenge the culture.
I call this little meme social justice Jesus.
First of all, in Western culture “the poor” have become an idol. Poor, sad, persecuted people, let’s pity them and rob them of whatever dignity and power they may have. You are so oppressed, such a victim, so, so sad. Also, the poor have become a monolithic group, so everyone from a convicted sex offender, addicted, homeless guy to those who work 3 jobs and hope someday to have running water.
To complicate things the poor are always noble, virtuous. Like, we envy them their status as the virtuous poor so much, that we do everything we can to try to keep them in their place. Of course, we also declare war on poverty and endlessly pay lip service to the idea that we have to fix these alleged epic fails through education and politics.
I’m an actual bleeding heart as opposed to the perpetual virtue signaling kind, so call me crazy, but anytime the government declares war on people, be it a war on drugs or a war on poverty, that is a war on actual people. You don’t help people by declaring war on them. Eradicating poverty means eradicating people. We have evidence of that truth too, from abortion to all the lives taken by the opioid epidemic, to inner city crime, to the enforced poverty of Indian reservations.
Whenever you watch movies and shows about Jesus in the Western world, the abject poor are everywhere. Right? Jesus heals the beggars, the ragged, everyone is starving and people have to sell their hair to buy a potato to feed their child. That’s not really Biblical! Jesus also dines with tax collectors and pharisee, kings and Romans. There are merchants and homeowners who host and fund the disciples and His ministry. Jesus is not out there feeding the poor with literal bread, He is feeding everyone with the bread of heaven. “I bring good news to the poor,” not just a bag of old socks and some food stamps.
I haven’t even begun to express all my thoughts and resentments around Western culture, virtue signaling, and rampant classism. Suffice it to say poverty is not equitable to morality, or immorality. It is neither virtuous or noble, nor is it the result of some grave moral failing.
About those gun rights. Jesus was not a pacifist. I think we could even argue that he supported our right to defend ourselves. His disciples are armed. He does tell Peter to lay down his sword, but we should take note of the fact that Peter has been carrying a sword this whole time. In Luke 22 Jesus actually says, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.”
As to nationalism, well, I think we could argue that nations matter to the Lord. That they mean something. We are not supposed to be living in a one world global order, we are to be a collection of small tribes, and within those tribes, smaller tribes yet, as in families. And we should take some pride in them, the good kind of pride, dominion, ownership, affection. Heck these days anyone flying an American flag is accused of being a nationalist. If that is how we are defining nationalism, as loving and honoring your country, then yes, I am a nationalist.
So, in my opinion there has been no metamorphosis of Jesus. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Also, He is a rich and abundant Lord, vast in His nature and character. He cannot be reduced to a right wing Christian nationalist, but He is also not a woke Social Justice warrior.
So, this meme annoyed me in part because we’re living in a world of blurred lines and skewed definitions. For example a major media outlet yesterday reported that some people in Cuba were shouting “freedom” and other “anti government” slogans. Since when is “freedom” an anti government word?! So today advocating for freedom and limited government gets you labeled antiscience, antigovernment, and unchristian?
Pffftt, that’s complete rubbish.