Was Jesus a Hippie or a Hoarder?

Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. Matthew 19:21

Remember those stirring words? They were spoken by Jesus not me. So, don’t kill the messenger, please. I’m only repeating the words of a god. And, oh my, how hard those words hit home when our culture pretty well insists upon the complete opposite. Our standard of success is to live as big as we can. Kings and popes have always done so without so much as a pinprick to their conscience. The masses look upon them with envy. Whenever a common man raises himself out of poverty, he gains instant respect and notoriety regardless of how he managed to accomplish this transformation. We adore the rich. In fact, in the modern world being rich and living a lifestyle of obese opulence is touted as The American Dream. Ha! It doesn't matter that roughly 80% of all Americans are head over heels in debt.

Which brings up another great godly quote: 

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8 

Uh, oh! The deep waters are murkier than ever, it seems. I can almost hear the pointy-toed shoes of the righteous running forward to offer their interpretation of these two verses, an automatic reflex to immediately point out that neither verse means what it sounds like it means. Oh, goody. I love how some verses are taken literally while others are not whenever believers rush in to defend their lifestyles. Of course, I’m luckier than they are because I don’t believe that the scriptures are the holy word of God, so I can face any master debater ( little play on words) without getting my feathers ruffled. It’s one of the perks an atheist enjoys. That doesn't mean that I don't notice contradictions and inconsistencies, however. Now more than ever, Christians are raking in the dough, religious leaders are living high on the hog and hoarding has become a national addiction. 

Hmmmm …. I apologize to all hogs for once again using them as a symbol of human greed and avarice. No hog could ever love money as much as we human beings do. 

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. I Timothy 6:10 

Oh, dang it! Here come the explanations once again, full of righteous indignation as those who claim to be holier than me also point out that money isn’t evil. Oh, good lord, no! It’s the LOVE of money that’s evil. It’s kinda like the current argument that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. And, although I fully admit that an inanimate object can’t be blamed for human atrocities, I’ve rarely if ever met a person who doesn’t LOVE money. 

Christian or not, the lack of money, the hoarding of money and the unwholesome, unequal distribution of money is at the root of most of our problems in the world. 

Always has been. Human suffering and deprivation is often orchestrated to enrich the coffers of a few. Furthermore, people who enjoy plenty are no longer able to recognize when they’re full or when they have enough stuff. Our houses are bigger than ever before because we have so much stuff to store and we still want more. Our bellies are bigger than ever before, but we still feel hungry. I don’t need the Bible to tell me that American personal debt is the highest it's ever been and climbing. Yep! Everybody wants it all and believes they deserve it all. 

Trust me! I realize this is a human response not a religious response, but Christians belong in a separate category of mindless, greedy living in my opinion and not just because their holy scriptures prohibit it. 

Their beliefs vs actions are so contradictory as to make my simple outlook on life appear to be that of a genius. You see, unlike atheists who believe this life is the only life we get, Christians claim that this life is a short precursor to the next life, which by the way will be a version of a celestial Mar-a-Lago. Furthermore, many Christians, especially the American brand, believe that we’re living in the end times. To hold these two emotionally charged beliefs and still collect, hoard, go in debt to do so and stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the words of their very own super hero, Jesus, flies in the face of logic. 

Interestingly, much of secular society has begun to question the mindless pursuit of money and stuff. 

Societies have also evolved enough to begin to realize that good stewardship should replace ownership as a virtue. Science has made it more and more possible to feed the world. The “bigger is better” philosophy and the mass production of junk in a throw-away society is no longer excusable as it once was because we know too much to live in a state of ignorant bliss. 

Oddly, the very people who should have already embraced that lifestyle because their hippie-hobo-son-of-a-god promoted an early version of social responsibility, often politically oppose any and all social progress. 

Of course, I have to remind myself that Christians down the through the ages have traditionally survived poverty by putting their faith in the better world to come — HEAVEN. Unfortunately, their heaven sounds very much like our material world where a few get to enjoy utter opulence in a gated community. Once again, overindulgence is the standard of the good life while those who don’t qualify are left to peer longingly through the pearly gates. 

Am I surprised that heaven sounds a lot like Beverly Hills?

Maybe I should be, but I’m not. I’m just annoyed that Jesus would tell people to give it all away and follow him only to promise to give it all back some day but bigger and better. You would think that deities would spend less time trying to convince people to join their fan club and more time instructing and expounding upon the responsibilities humans have to build a better life HERE and NOW for the children they insist on bringing into the world. That nearly 1/2 of the world's population lives on less that $2.50 a day should be a matter of grave concern for any god worth his weight in gold.

Why would Jesus model a lifestyle on earth that doesn't match life in his heavenly kingdom? 

Why would he tell us that living without stuff is a good thing when he lives in a community where the very streets are paved with gold? Finally, why on earth would he bribe us to follow him by promising a reward if we do? Even stranger, the reward turns out to be treasures beyond our wildest imaginations, the very things we were told to give up. The amount of blatant insincerity and mixed messages is mind boggling. No wonder his followers are confused!

There are many compelling reasons for not being materialistic, caring for our planet and sharing with those less fortunate.

Building better communities and more advanced societies where human suffering is minimized should be our goal. Wasteful opulence and unbridled greed is not only counter productive but robs future generations of hope. I might be in the minority when I say that I never needed a god to bribe me before I could recognize the benefits of living a thoughtful and deliberate life. I understood this when I was kid, but then I was born with an extra measure of empathy. That's a super power that allows me to feel the pain and suffering of others as if it were my own. 

Oh, well. that's another story for another time. 

Teresa Roberts is a myth buster. Her recent published book - Have We Been Screwed? Trading Freedom for Fairy Tales - can be purchased on Amazon.