Three ways the logic of Jesus offers an alternative path to economic justice
Both in the days of Caesar and today, wealth is ultimately a matter of maintaining a close relationship with the powers that be and the trust that these relationships will last. The logic of Caesar, which is the logic of wealth, tends to play people off against each other, making it appear as if inequalities are God-given and natural. The logic of Jesus, on the other hand—the logic of community, organizing, and solidarity—provides alternatives.
In the days of Jesus, the flourishing of life depended on whether village communities were able to pull together in solidarity or not. In this struggle, the Jesus movement sometimes found allies in unlikely places, including wealthy women or a group of Pharisees who warn Jesus that Herod wants to have him killed (Luke 8:3; 13:31).
What does the logic of Jesus towards economic justice look like in our contemporary society?
1. The logic of Jesus regarding community, organizing, and solidarity involves not just people but also God.
God’s very self in Jesus joins in solidarity with people who are trying to make a living and with them endures the consequences. In the words of Wengst: “In the crucified Jesus God has not allied himself with the great, but on the contrary with those on the periphery.”
2. The logic of Jesus’ deep solidarity elsewhere pulls people together without needing to give up or erase their differences.
Miguel A. De La Torre says: “The importance of Jesús’ crucifixion is that this is the historical moment when Jesús chose solidarity with the world’s marginalized, even unto death.” What emerges here is what I have called deep solidarity elsewhere: the kind of community where people pull together without needing to give up or erase their differences. In fact, deep solidarity not only allows for differences but flourishes when people put them to use for the good of the community.
3. The logic of Jesus leads to stronger communities where productivity and creativity are valued rather than dominance.
The logic of Jesus suggests that the world is not about maintaining top-down power but about the emergence of a resilient bottom-up sort of power that creates solidarity and ties working people together. Jesus’s way of life leads to stronger communities where productivity and creativity are valued rather than dominance, and where power-sharing and a sense of community shape our economic relationships.
The goal for the Christian following the logic of Jesus is not to integrate minorities into some dominant status quo, but to bring together and organize those facing devastating realities of growing economic inequality that go hand-in-hand with worshiping the wrong god.
The choice seems clear: we are either gathered by the grace of Jesus or pulled apart by the power of Caesar.
Adapted from Jesus vs. Caesar, by Joerg Rieger. Copyright © 2018 by Abingdon Press