Should Christians Care About The Increasing Income Inequality In The U.S.?

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Should Christians Care About The Increasing Income Inequality In The U.S.? There is a story in the bible of a rich young man who asks Jesus what it takes to have eternal life. Jesus begins by telling the rich young man to obey all the commandments. The rich young man claims he has already done so and asks what else he needs to do. Jesus answers the rich young man, saying, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give it to the poor. Then come follow me.” (Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31, and Luke 18:18-30) This encounter is the only recorded account of Jesus being asked, specifically and directly, what it takes to have eternal life. Jesus teaches that when his followers ignore the poor and marginalized, they ignore Jesus himself. Indeed he also teaches in the same passage (Matthew 25:31-46) that when his followers take care of the poor and marginalized, they take care of Jesus himself. Those who claim to follow and take serious the teachings of Christ, then, must necessarily care about the poor and marginalized. Thus the rising inequality of income in the United States today is not merely an economical issue to be kept separate from the Church, but a moral issue of which the Church must necessarily find ways to insert itself in the conversation. According to Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at UC Berkeley, income inequality have been on the rise since the 1970s, and is now at its highest since 1928; "...while the bottom 99 percent of incomes grew at a solid pace of 2.7 percent per year from 1993-2000, these incomes grew only 1.3 percent per year from 2002-2007. As a result, in the economic expansion of 2002-2007, the top 1 percent captured two thirds of income growth." As the income gap began to widen star... ... middle of paper ... ...s and have nothing to eat” (Mark 8:2). Jesus commanded his disciples to give them something to eat. This wellspring of concern for those in need is like a genetic trait passed down to the followers of Jesus. While the book of James is perhaps the most forthright in expressing the church’s need to honor the poor and warn the rich, concern for those in need pervades the New Testament. In Jesus, we see that God has a ‘preferential option for the poor.’ As Gustavo Gutiérrez points out, Jesus in Matthew 25 proclaims a shocking identity “between a deed of love in behalf of the poor and a deed done in behalf of the Son of Man…to give one’s life for justice is to give it for Christ himself.” As such, the gospel of the kingdom that Jesus proclaimed made a demand on us to work on behalf of the poor and marginalized in our area, opposing ways of life that did not benefit them.

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