Following Jesus Requires Opposing Economic Injustice

A banner at Occupy Portland the evening before eviction. November 12, 2011. Photo by Tim Graves
A banner at Occupy Portland the evening before eviction. November 12, 2011. Photo by Tim Graves

Community capitalism, in which people make a fair profit while providing a service or product needed by the community, builds up community. In its concern for community, it is consistent with the teachings of Jesus.

Community capitalism, however, is a very different economic system than the radical, corporatism that dominates us today.  The radical capitalism of the twenty-first century demands extreme profits while convincing people wants are needs and corporations are people. We each become, not a neighbor with needs that another can provide, but someone to manipulate to increase someone else’s power and wealth.

Radical capitalism (corporatism) diminishes the value of human community. In its disregard for communities and the people who live in them, it is inconsistent with Christianity. Community living and the Imago Dei (image of God) within every person, are core values taught and lived by Jesus.

Just as the early church struggled to practice and maintain these values in the face of external pressure, particularly from the powerful, the twenty-first century church faces pressures from a contrary culture. When we allow the values of radical capitalism and endless acquisition to ooze into the church we have lost our way.

We too often fail to call-out the sins of the economics that diminish our kindred in our own communities and communities across the globe. We have feared alienating members who rely on an unjust system for a living and have kept our mouths shut. We have compromised ourselves into irrelevance.

The only economics followers of Jesus should be committed to are those that build up the unfolding realm of God (sometimes called the Kingdom of God). Radical corporatism does not build up the realm of God. Responding to others in love and grace with all of ourselves including the sharing of financial resources is consistent with the biblical witness, especially as reflected in the early church (see Acts of the Apostles).

Though not easy in a contrary culture that idolizes things and power, we must focus on the teachings of the one we claim to follow and be open to the voice of the Spirit who continues to speak. Doing so, requires us to give up sacred cows and think in ways that feel uncomfortable. It means taking social risks when we stand with the oppressed, with the poor, and with the powerless.

The church is not a building. It is a people, a community, concerned about striving to be God’s extravagant love in every moment. It is a humble love that calls out and actively opposes injustices within and outside itself. I pray for a resurrection in myself and the church that we might be a part of the unfolding realm of God, that we might speak and act in love and justice, whatever the risk may be.

He has told you, human one, what is good and what the Lord requires from you:
to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8 CEB

“You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8b CEB

Related Posts:

Capitalism & Christianity

Ignoring Jesus & Injustice


  1. Reblogged this on Nazarene Spirit and commented:
    I just had to share this one, as it really articulates what I have long thought. The need for Christians to stand up to economic injustice wherever they are and whatever they do. I think we need to be much noisier about what Jesus stood for.. This is a great thought from Tim, and I hope you will take the time to read it.

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