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Would Jesus Holler WORK OR STARVE!

By Patricia Backora

“Brother Bear” (not his real name) is one hacked-off preacher, constantly scowling and hollering at his congregation for their sins and their alleged laziness in particular. He, and many other loveless preachers, use this verse as a convenient copout from showing compassion to the poor: 2 Thes.3:10: For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. This scripture, like others, should not be isolated from its context and used to browbeat those under severe financial trial and living in degrading conditions. This scripture passage is directed specially toward people who habitually goof off and flit about from house to house spreading idle gossip instead of leading productive, useful lives. In times past I’ve known of people who acted this way, both believers and unbelievers. These busybodies probably kept track of when dinner would be served at each house and just “dropped by” as the family sat down to eat. People can save a lot on their grocery bills by doing this! Many Christians are soft touches who don’t have the heart to turn away uninvited dinner guests who pop in for dinner every day. This would open that Christian up to a charge of being unloving and selfish, even if the permanent dinner guest is OBVIOUSLY taking advantage of the kindness of their Christian neighbors on a regular basis. But before a Christian chews out a “freeloader” chewing on his food, he/she should try to find out if circumstances beyond the control of the other person have led to this behavior. The frequent dinner guest might truly be in need through no fault of his own, or in danger of becoming homeless. Job loss or other tragedy can strike at any time, sweeping even the most responsible people off

their feet. If the modern church acted like the First Century Church, it would be about the business of helping people “caught between the cracks” to get back on their feet and able to provide for themselves as they formerly did. Instead of lavishing donations on fancy landscaping or excessive pastoral salaries, the modern church ought to run temporary shelters where hungry, homeless members are LOVINGLY cared for without being rebuked for being in their predicament. So long as this “safety net” wasn’t abused as a permanent hammock, it wouldn’t violate Paul’s exhortation to personal responsibility. The key words in 2 Thes.3:10 are WOULD NOT WORK (an attitude of WILLINGNESS to earn their own living, not necessarily the ABILITY to). If a person is able-bodied and qualified to work at available jobs and needs the money to survive, he/she has no choice, according to the Word of God. Yet today we see the dilemma of single and divorced mothers who realize that if they DID work at available minimum-waged jobs, expensive child care would be needed. Modern Americans are highly mobile. They often relocate very far from their home towns, with parents, brothers and sisters scattered in every corner of the U.S., leading independent lives of their own and making only sporadic contact with one another. A woman might have settled down somewhere with a man she loved and trusted. But due to death or divorce she finds herself all alone in a big city with no friends or relatives to pitch in with childcare for her youngsters while she’s away at work. A poor woman would have no other option but to farm them out to expensive daycare, which might eat up more money than she’s earning. Not to mention her rent payment, utilities, transportation and food. Growing kids tend to eat like lumberjacks and if there’s no food around they’ll eat the wallpaper. Let’s be realistic. If a woman is a single mom and knows enough math to figure out that she’s better off on welfare, what alternative is there? Would it save the state that much money to forcibly break up the family and pay others to raise the kids? Is that what Brother Bear wants, this paragon of FAMILY VALUES who ditched his first wife and family back in the ‘70’s to go start a new family with some younger chick in his congregation? Most people aren’t too proud of having to take welfare. It would be ideal if such a woman had the opportunity to train for a better job which could cover her working costs AND leave money for food, rent and clothes. Pity poor single women struggling to keep their families afloat. At the back of their minds is the nagging fear that if they don’t provide adequately for their kids the State might take them away and place them in foster homes. The pathetic pay people on minimum wage earn, combined with the crippling cost of living, makes it impossible for some people to keep their families together. During this current economic downturn, many professional people are losing their jobs. Some are ending up homeless, too scared to tell anyone lest the authorities come and split their families up. I saw one family on TV who rode the NY subway all day long to stay warm in the winter because they’ve got no home. Their biggest anxiety was they’d lose each other. Chances are Brother Bear is so lost in his religious head trip he NEVER stops to think of poverty as a tragedy that happens to the best of people at the worst possible times. Instead, he lambasts the Welfare Queen who lounges at home at taxpayers’ expense. There ARE a few outrageous cases where women deliberately pop out as many babies as possible to maximize their welfare benefits. But the truly needy must NOT be cast out into the cold because some abuse the System. Speaking of cold, I watched one video where a man told the sad story of what tithing had done to transform his life into a tragic mess. Year after year this well-

meaning but deceived Christian tithed on every penny that came into his pocket. If some emergency struck his life to make him skip a tithe payment, he’d tremble in fear of the judgment of God. Without realizing it, he’d moved out of the realm of the Grace of God back under Law and its terrible bondage of fear (Rom.8:15). Tithing is a matter OF JEWISH LAW (Lev.27:30-34; Matt.23:23). Imperfect lawkeeping carries a terrible curse. Instead of reaping a rich “harvest blessing” for rendering ten per cent of his money to his spiritual overlords, the man suffered worsening circumstances until he broke free of religious bondage put upon him BY PHARISEE PREACHERS who don’t live by the same laws they impose on others (Luke 11:46). Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. * * * If you tithe, you’ll be condemned by God for failure to properly keep the REST of the 613-ordinance Law as well, which includes dietary regulations, restrictions on trimming hair and beards, animal sacrifices, Sabbath-keeping, etc. Verse 11: But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. Verse 12: And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Verse 13: Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: In other articles I explore reasons why tithing is not for Christians today, and how Scripture teaches that tithing is PART OF THE LAW we’ve been redeemed from. What does all this have to do with being cold? That faithful tither finally woke up after he had to do without winter heat due to faithful tithing. In desperation he approached church bigwigs to see if they’d be willing to help him with the cost of heating. After years and years of filching money off that poor sucker they flatout refused to help him out! Don’t ever be duped by melodramatic tearful pulpit preachers who pretend to “feel your pain”! Sure they just might pray for you, but the apostle James asks Christians what good does it do to speak some airy-fairy blessing over your brother or sister if you do nothing to provide food for their hungry stomach or clothes for their body (James 2:14-17)? Faith without works is dead. Brother Bear can holler till the cows come home about living for God but if he rejects this part of the Gospel of Christ he’s a hypocrite. Part of the problem is the MANMADE false tradition of a clergy-laity divide in the Body of Christ. Christians are hoodwinked into thinking that keeping preachers rich is “ministering to Jesus’ need”. Giving to that faraway face in Preacherland, California equals giving to the Lord! If televangelists need studio equipment or money for any type of project (money doesn’t ALWAYS reach those starving kids in Haiti) they never hesitate to cry and beg for Christians to give sacrificially to the Lord (they’ll happily take your money in His name). Some will weep and swear that if you don’t send them eight million bucks by such and such a date “god” will bump them off or their program will go belly up. But if YOU’RE about to get evicted from your fleabag apartment because you lost your job, tough beans! You just try contacting their ministry for a handout. At most you’ll get a polite response urging you to “go get a job”. That friendly puppy face on TV is nowhere in sight when the sheriff comes pounding on your door to move you and your belongings out onto the sidewalk! ALL Christian believers belong to Christ’s Royal Priesthood (I Pet.2:5,9). That’s right, we aren’t common peon schleps parked out in the pews put here on earth serving no other purpose than to keep the REAL Christians up in style. ALL true

believers are part of the actual Body of Christ on earth. Read I Corinthians chapter 12 and you’ll realize that we’re ALL vital to the Body of Christ, and supposed to be ministering in our own God-given capacities. We are made one Spirit with Christ Jesus (I Cor.6:17)! Isn’t that awesome? Every time we scrape and bow and bring tribute to self-appointed lords over God’s inheritance (see I Pet. 5:3) we deny our own union with Christ Jesus and our position as being seated with Him in heavenly places (Eph.2:6). Think of it. WE “ordinary” Christians ARE one Spirit with Christ Jesus. If you give to that poor hungry Christian family sitting in the pew next to you, you’re giving to the Lord just as much as if you gave it to the man up front in the pulpit. So why would any Christian hesitate to go ask some televangelist for financial aid if he gets stuck with high medical bills or he just needs food? He’s just as important in the sight of God as that luxury-loving TV preacher who begs for your money on God’s behalf, while wearing a new pair of shoes only ONCE and dining like a king every night like the Rich Man of Luke chapter 16, while you’re lucky to get bargain basement macaroni and cheese! These self-appointed tax collectors of God say you’re “faith partners in prosperity” with them. I thought a partnership was usually on EQUAL terms (see 2 Cor.8:14 which calls for EQUALITY of well-being in the Body of Christ!). But you try and actually PRACTICE equality in your church! Next time your tooth hurts and you don’t have dentist money, go up to that big fat Pharisee in the pulpit and ask for an offering to get the need met. After all, you’re just as much a member of the Body of Christ as any so-called ordained minister! But don’t count on any positive results. You’ll probably be whisked out of the “sanctuary” by ushers faster than a speeding bullet. And as for those high-rollin’ TV preachers, they’re well-insulated from you. They’re surrounded by big organizations which shield them from contact with the general public. The most you could do would be to speak to someone behind a desk who supposedly represents them. Brother Bear should start hollerin’ at the man in the mirror before sending everybody else to hell for being on welfare. He and his ilk are far bigger freeloaders than the poor elderly lady on a state pension. I bet Brother Bear never had to put back a food item because he was six cents short. I bet HE never had to do without dental treatment if HIS tooth hurt! I remember working every hour God could send and I STILL couldn’t afford to get a desperately needed root canal treatment done. I’ve lost most of that tooth because I couldn’t get it restored when it really needed the work done. Far from being lazy I did my utmost NEVER to miss a day due to sickness. Brother Bear would have been proud of me back then. I went to work even when I was hacking my head off. I had a bad cold for six weeks but couldn’t afford proper bed rest to get over it. I prayed the Lord wouldn’t let people notice how sick I was as I prepared their sandwiches. I took good care of myself and hoped I wouldn’t get run over by a bus in a country where only the wealthy could afford medical care. Rent and other expenses ate up most of what I earned, even though I had given sacrificially to preachers over many years and was still waiting for my windfall. The more I gave to these “name it and claim it” preachers, the more trials came our way. Well, you can guess I’ve been cured of my hero-worship of preachers. Life is so much nicer for me now that I haven’t sent those beg-a-thon bums one solitary cent! God meets all my needs and I actually have the TIME to do fulfilling things which matter for eternity. My mother had a rough time of it years ago when my dad got sick. Brother Bear hollers about the virtues of hard work. He screamed recently about the evils of women supporting their non-working husbands, and how such men are lazy bums

who are gonna split hell wide open and land in satan’s frying pan. Well, no guy on earth worked harder than my dad. But Dad was forced to quit just ONE year short of being able to collect his full government pension. Why? Because his liver got ate up by caustic chemicals he worked in for 29 years. The poor man nearly died. He suffered disability the rest of his life. My mother went to work cleaning motel rooms while Dad recuperated. If she’d taken off sick days she would have been fired. Even when the road was frozen over in winter those poor motel maids had to risk their necks to get to work. And they had to work at a punishing pace. Twelve or thirteen (sometimes more) rooms had to be cleaned by each woman in just six measly hours! No health benefits, no bonuses, just minimum wage. To add insult to injury her employers tried to take the cleaners’ lunch break away “to improve efficiency”. I wonder how hard Brother Bear’s wife works! If any of his kids got sick or lost their job would he blister their eardrums for being a stinkin’ lazy no-good bum? My dad got sick as a dog and it was hard to make ends meet, but what did his govt. employers care? After fighting for his country in WWII and 29 years of faithful service to his job, my poor dad went back to work as a security guard, elderly and frail, because his slashed pension wouldn’t stretch far enough. How hard does Brother Bear work? It must wear that old boy out to holler about how everybody else is a worthless waste of space and on their way to hell! Brother Bear hollers about the evils of the Welfare system and how satanic it is. I do hate to say this, but would it give this massive man satisfaction to watch some poor person slowly starve to death for lack of basic food? Would he eat a big bucket of chicken in front of a malnourished laid-off worker? Christian poor people wouldn’t even NEED a government welfare system for a safety net if the modern Church were anything like the one in the Book of Acts. What a big reward this preacher would get in heaven if only his heart were as big as his waistline! Acts 4:32: And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. Verse 33: And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Verse 34: Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, Verse 35: And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. Wow! In the middle of this passage, we read that God visited the early church with His wonder-working power! There was NONE among them who lacked for the necessities of life! So much for Conservative Churchianity’s “sink or swim” capitalistic theology! Could LACK OF LOVE be the primary reason for the powerlessness of the modern church? Can you imagine any of those fancy-dancy televangelists selling their fine jewelry, art collections, Ferraris, and vast estates and distributing the proceeds to help poverty-stricken Christians with their rent or food bills? It’ll rain the proverbial snowballs in hell before that happens! I’d bet Brother Bear wouldn’t even share his Twinkie with a hungry widow! How many malnourished kids could eat if some televangelist decided ONE home is enough and sold his horse ranch and beachfront villa so he could feed hungry kids in the inner cities? Don’t bank on it!

Let’s be fair now. Preachers have to eat too, and sometimes “ordinary” believers do take advantage of them. Instead of seeing a psychiatrist, a troubled Christian might counsel with his pastor, who takes seriously his responsibility to care for the flock of the Lord. Multiply this by hundreds of cases if his congregation is large and troubled congregants make incessant demands on their pastor’s time. Not to mention all the entertaining the pastor and his wife must do, and all the church programs and projects they must immerse themselves in. Many if not most professional pastors have been to Bible school and studied their socks off to get to where they are today. Many have studied professional counseling and offer it free of charge to people who visit their office. But even preachers have to eat, for goodness sake. Paul preached the Gospel free of charge (I Cor.9:18). But fellow Christians wouldn’t have expected a free tent from Paul the tentmaker. If much of a preacher’s waking life is taken up with professional counseling, he should expect a decent salary just like any other professional. Paying these sympathetic listeners and program producers a reasonable amount through FREEWILL offerings (not tithes) is reasonable if you want them available to cry on their shoulders at all hours of the day or night. But for the most part, megachurch ministers and big televangelists don’t get to know the ordinary pew Christian. They have their “inner circus” (I mean circle!) clique to serve as a buffer zone so they can avoid rubbing shoulders with the burger flippers and street sweepers out in the pews. Generally speaking, they don’t have time to strike up an acquaintance with each soul out in that vast sea of pews. Brother Bear wouldn’t lose much sleep if you WERE tossed out of your home in subzero weather through no fault of your own! So why deprive your family of necessities to pay him for services he doesn’t even render? Two can play at this game of being blunt! These fancy preachers have made it clear that they expect you to pay your dues to keep their organization afloat, and if you aren’t hard at work producing money FOR THEM, you’re a lowdown, despicable bum. Just like you’d never stay at the Ritz Hotel if you didn’t have much money, you shouldn’t go to some fancy megachurch (begachurch) if you’re broke. If you can’t afford the fancy fixtures, don’t go there! If the pastor (or any other kingpin) humiliates you for not coughing up the cash, don’t even wait till the service is over. JUST WALK OUT!!! Go someplace cheaper for your weekly religious whipping. Seriously though, find brothers and sisters who know that religion ain’t what it’s all about. A few sincere born-again souls who don’t try to “do church” as a routine ritual to feel better about themselves, just gather together in the love and unity of the Spirit of Christ to celebrate His love and minister that measure of His life He has imparted to each member of His Body on earth (I Cor. Chap.12). Brother Bear hollers that there’s no free lunch with God. But is that REALLY true? Just ask Jesus, Who served lunch to 5,000 hungry men plus their wives and families (Matt.14:21), then repeated the same miracle for 4,000 families in the next chapter (Matt.15:28). That’s two tall orders for a lowly Carpenter Who forgot to take up the love offering to defray expenses! What did JESUS have to say about providing for the poor? Did He ever holler WORK OR STARVE! at some poor beggar? Is God’s kindness and faithfulness to provide for His children limited to the money in their pockets? What was Jesus’ attitude toward the rich? Did He tell them to turn a blind eye to the needy? In Matt.19:16-22 and Luke 18:18-23 the Rich Young Ruler asks Jesus what he needs to do to enter into Life eternal. Jesus tells him to sell all his earthly treasures and donate the proceeds to the poor. Why doesn’t Brother Bear preach more on this example set by Jesus?

Matt.6:25: Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment (clothing)? Verse 26: Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Verse 27: Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? Verse 28: And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: Verse 29: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Verse 30: Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Verse 31: Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? Verse 32: (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. Verse 33: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Verse 34: Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Work is an important part of a believer’s life, but not once in this passage does Jesus limit God’s faithfulness to our ability to amass wealth. Far from exalting the greedy rich Jesus warns them of their spiritual peril in such passages as Matt.19:24 which states it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter in to eternal life. In Luke 18:24 Jesus states: How hardly (with great difficulty) shall those who possess wealth enter the Kingdom of God! Paul gives this exhortation to wealthy Christians: I Tim.6:17: Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; Verse 18: That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute (share with the truly needy), willing to communicate; Verse 19: Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. Why doesn’t Brother Bear comment much on THIS Scripture, or is he afraid to share his Twinkies?