Christmas, an Inspiration for Godly Justice!

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Have you ever thought of Christmas as a symbol of one of the greatest social justice events in history? The enormous transformation of society that led Christians to pioneer nearly every major human right was heavily inspired by the birth and life of Jesus who loved those in sin, injustice and suffering so much that He sacrificed living in a perfect place to dwell among humanity at one of the most degraded points in history, experience their suffering and eventually die due to a corruption of horrible injustice by 2 governments (the Jews and the Romans) as a sacrifice for all people. The only rivals to the birth of Jesus which is celebrated at Christmas in terms of how much progress in human rights and justice it has inspired around the world might be God’s act of creation and God giving the first human rights laws that treated all human beings as equals to the Israelis.

Historians call this the Pax Romana, the Roman peace. But it a “peace” that was based on injustice, abuse and atrocities to people both outside the empire and inside, many losing their freedom and lives. But Calgacus, a Briton leader, described the Roman “Peace” saying “They are unique in being as violently tempted to attack the poor as the wealthy. Robbery, butchery, rapine, the liars call Empire; they create desolation and call it peace.”

Jesus had powerful, profound things to say, things that would change how we view people, alter government policies and change the world. “Blessed are the merciful,” “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and “Love your enemies” are just a few examples of his most profound and revolutionary teachings. He spoke truth to power, and it caused his death. Consider these facts about the times Jesus lived in.

–Jesus/his parents were temporary immigrants. They had to leave their hometown and journey to Nazareth in a time of difficulty for Mary, when she was about to give birth.
–Jesus and his parents were refugees. They had to flee their hometown under threat of death and escape to Egypt.
–Jesus avoided public education because it was so corrupted at his time and was not focused on the freeing truths of God. So he was a dissident against common education. –Economic injustice in Rome was terrible. The top 1% owned ~20-25% of all wealth. But it’s 2 times worse now. The top 1% own ~50%+ of all wealth.  This causes much abuse, family breakdown, slavery and loss of many kinds of freedom.

Consider also things that might happen to Jesus if he were born now.
–Being born at home would violate laws in some places.
–a 12 year old boy lost for 3 days might be kidnapped, sold or enslaved.
–All Jesus biometrics would be documented, tracked, monitored and filed by governmental agencies and corporations such as Google and Microsoft.
–If he talked to a dissident like John the Baptist, the FBI, CIA would track and censor him as suspicious.
–Jesus warned against greed and injustice to the poor. Hundreds of journalists have been killed by governments and corporations for doing that.
–Jesus was spied on. Many Christians now are spied on, in China, Arab countries and sometimes America. Martin Luther King Jr. Black Panthers, etc.
–Many would mock and troll his truths.
–If Jesus tried to feed the homeless, he might get arrested.
–Jesus would be consigned to insane asylum for claiming to be God and talking with Satan.
–Jesus might be killed by police if anyone reported him as dangerous…or he might have been “disappeared” by police.
–At least he would have been imprisoned and made a slave laborer for corporations (Walmart, Amazon, Monsanto, etc.).

In his first sermon, Jesus focused on oppression and injustice and said his mission was to set oppressed people free.

“The Spirit of the Lord…has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of Jubilee.” Luke 4:18-19 NLT/TPT

Dr. Hudson shows that Jesus started his ministry by Christianity began as a protest movement and based on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Dr. Hudson shows that Jesus’ meant to proclaim a Jubilee Year when debts were to be cancelled, citing Isaiah verses that described the Jubilee Year. But a big reason the rabbis were so opposed to Jesus is because the rabbis were opposed to cancelling debts, esp. the Pharisees, and they had made traditions so that debtors could not free themselves from debt. Jesus’ condemned this as being against all God’s intentions and exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.
“Jesus: the economic activist”

Jesus also strongly protested the corruption in the temple and threw out the greedy and fraudulent bankers of that time not just once, but twice.

We sometimes forget that the strength of Rome was at its peak and at its head, Augustus, the architect of the Pax Romana. But it was a “peace” for which many people both outside the empire and inside paid a very heavy price, many losing their freedom and lives. That included Israel with its multitude being ground under the boot of Rome. Ellen White states that “The deception of sin had reached its height.” (Desire of Ages, p. 37).

In the Bible, we read that soon after Jesus was born, there was an attack on His life.
“After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” Luke 2:13

The gifts of the wise men enabled Joseph and Mary to escape that threat and make a new life in another country as immigrants. And it is at Christmas that we should think most about helping those whose lives are in danger now, such as immigrants too.

Wayne A. Meeks: Woolsey Professor of Biblical Studies Yale University says that,
“this new message, [this] rather improbable message that the Son of God has come to earth and been crucified, in human form, and risen from the dead … appealed to a lot of perfectly ordinary people…It has an ideology of justice, which will be guaranteed by God, finally…

Ellen White says that Jesus came at one of the very worst periods of human history.
“For hundreds of years the Scriptures had been translated into the Greek language, then widely spoken throughout the Roman Empire. The Jews were scattered everywhere, and their expectation of the Messiah’s coming was to some extent shared by the Gentiles. Among those whom the Jews styled heathen were men who had a better understanding of the Scripture prophecies concerning the Messiah than had the teachers in Israel. There were some who hoped for His coming as a deliverer from sin. Philosophers endeavored to study into the mystery of the Hebrew economy. But the bigotry of the Jews hindered the spread of the light. Intent on maintaining the separation between themselves and other nations, they were unwilling to impart the knowledge they still possessed concerning the symbolic service. The true Interpreter must come. The One whom all these types prefigured must explain their significance. DA p. 33

She also says that Jesus came at one of the very worst periods of human history.
“…Through heathenism, Satan had for ages turned men away from God; but he won his great triumph in perverting the faith of Israel. By contemplating and worshiping their own conceptions, the heathen had lost a knowledge of God, and had become more and more corrupt. So it was with Israel. The principle that man can save himself by his own works lay at the foundation of every heathen religion; it had now become the principle of the Jewish religion. Satan had implanted this principle. Wherever it is held, men have no barrier against sin.

The message of salvation is communicated to men through human agencies. But the Jews had sought to make a monopoly of the truth which is eternal life. They had hoarded the living manna, and it had turned to corruption. The religion which they tried to shut up to themselves became an offense. They robbed God of His glory, and defrauded the world by a counterfeit of the gospel. They had refused to surrender themselves to God for the salvation of the world, and they became agents of Satan for its destruction.

The people whom God had called to be the pillar and ground of the truth had become representatives of Satan. They were doing the work that he desired them to do, taking a course to misrepresent the character of God, and cause the world to look upon Him as a tyrant. The very priests who ministered in the temple had lost sight of the significance of the service they performed. They had ceased to look beyond the symbol to the thing signified. In presenting the sacrificial offerings they were as actors in a play. The ordinances which God Himself had appointed were made the means of blinding the mind and hardening the heart. God could do no more for man through these channels. The whole system must be swept away.

The deception of sin had reached its height. All the agencies for depraving the souls of men had been put in operation. The Son of God, looking upon the world, beheld suffering and misery. With pity He saw how men had become victims of satanic cruelty. He looked with compassion upon those who were being corrupted, murdered, and lost. They had chosen a ruler who chained them to his car as captives. Bewildered and deceived, they were moving on in gloomy procession toward eternal ruin,—to death in which is no hope of life, toward night to which comes no morning. Satanic agencies were incorporated with men. The bodies of human beings, made for the dwelling place of God, had become the habitation of demons. The senses, the nerves, the passions, the organs of men, were worked by supernatural agencies in the indulgence of the vilest lust. The very stamp of demons was impressed upon the countenances of men. Human faces reflected the expression of the legions of evil with which they were possessed. Such was the prospect upon which the world’s Redeemer looked. What a spectacle for Infinite Purity to behold!

Sin had become a science, and vice was consecrated as a part of religion. Rebellion had struck its roots deep into the heart, and the hostility of man was most violent against heaven. It was demonstrated before the universe that, apart from God, humanity could not be uplifted. A new element of life and power must be imparted by Him who made the world. DA p. 35-36

Rene Girard was a professor at Stanford and an atheist. As he analyzed history, he realized that there just wasn’t hardly any concern for human rights.  It had grown some during the 1st centuries AD and kept on growing until there was an explosion of human rights concern.  He looked at different factors, but ruled them all out. He found that the very best explanation was that the Bible and Judaism/Christianity that brought a whole new view of human rights into the world based on the injunctions of prophets that people must care about the oppressed and based on Jesus example as the innocent victim who became the conquering hero.  The Bible’s attitude towards the underclass was this:
The way you treat the people in trouble is the same way you are treating God.  All are equal in Jesus, so you need to care about these people as if they are brothers and sisters and children of God the same as you are. It was because of sentiments like these that Christianity “turned the world upside down (with love)” Acts 17:6 as one of their critics put it.

The thought provoking Christian author Philip Yancey summarizes professor Rene Girard’s findings on how Christianity changed history:
“Rene Girard…became fascinated with the fact that in modern times disenfranchised people gain a sort of moral authority and noted that… human rights have increased exponentially. It was surprising because he could find nothing similar in ancient literature. Victors, not the marginalized, wrote history, and the myths from Babylon, Greece and other places celebrated strong heroes, and ignored the rights of the losers/weak if they mentioned them at all. In his research, he traced this phenomenon back to the historical figure of Jesus. 

It struck Girard that Jesus’ story was radically different from every heroic story of its time. Jesus chose poverty and disgrace, spent his infancy as a refugee, lived in a minority race under a harsh regime and died as a prisoner. From the very beginning, Jesus took the side of the underdog: the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the “marginalied”. His crucifixion, Girard concluded, introduced a new plot to history: the victim becomes the hero by being a victim which introduced a student of Girard’s called “the most sweeping historical revolution in the world, namely, the emergence of an empathy for victims.” 

Girard contends that Jesus’ life and death brought forth a new stream in history, one that undermines injustice. It may take centuries for that stream to erode a hard bank of oppression, as it did with slavery, and sometimes that stream has to confront Christians who have gotten corrupt or comfortable following the morals of the society of their time instead of thinking of how God wants them to advance, but with people like Nightingale, Martin Luther King, Shane Claiborne, Tony Campolo, the founders of Habitat for humanity, Oxfam, Amnesty International, society for prevention of cruelty to animals and 100s and 100s of others, the stream of liberation flows on. To the consternation of his secular colleagues, Girard eventually converted to Christianity for this and other reasons.”

from “What Good is God” by Philip Yancey
See also:

A list of some of human rights Christians pioneered based on Jesus’ life is here.

Jesus in the New Testament, but especially in the Old Testament constantly advocated for the rights of the poor, the oppressed, and those suffering from injustice. Many scholars have shown that Judaism and Christianity have pioneered all the major human rights, more than all other sources COMBINED. The Bible tells us that greed will cause terrible times in the last days (2 Tim. 3:1-5, Revelation 18, etc.). So the last thing the super greedy rich oppressors of humanity want people’s minds to be drawn to is Jesus, the one who raises up people to protect the abused and to oppose agents of injustice, the God who has inspires countless human rights movements to uplift the oppressed. Claiming that Christmas is pagan, is one ideal way to draw people’s minds away from the God who claims that He is the defender of the oppressed.

We know the Bible’s description of Roman oppression towards Israel. Historians ironically call this the Pax Romana, the Roman peace. But it was a “peace” that was based on injustice, abuse and atrocities to people both outside the empire and inside, many losing their freedom and lives. Israel was a colonized country paying heavy taxes and seeing it’s people imprisoned, killed and crucified for any hint of dissent or rebellion under the boot of Rome. But Calgacus, a Briton leader, described the Roman “Peace” saying “They are unique in being as violently tempted to attack the poor as the wealthy. Robbery, butchery, rapine, the liars call Empire; they create desolation and call it peace.”

Emperor Augustus was bad enough, but if possible Herod, the local tyrant, was even worse. He of course infamously perpetrated the slaughter of infants at Bethlehem in the Bible. But he also executed wives, sons and other relatives in fear that they might replace him. Emperor Augustus punned/joked that it was preferable to be Herod’s pig (hus) than his son (huios). And a man willing to kill his own relatives would not hesitate to commit almost any atrocity you can think of. This was the environment that Jesus was born into.

You may not have thought of this, but there are many similarities between the conditions in the Roman empire and conditions in many countries and also in America now. Would we recognize the Christ child’s humanity, let alone his divinity? Would we treat him any differently than he was treated by the Roman Empire? I’ll share a few that I’ve found and that others like a constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead have noted.

“Jesus—the revered preacher, teacher, radical and prophet—was born into a police state not unlike the growing menace of the American police state. When he grew up, he had powerful, profound things to say, things that would change how we view people, alter government policies and change the world. “Blessed are the merciful,” “Blessed are the peacemakers,” and “Love your enemies” are just a few examples of his most profound and revolutionary teachings.

When confronted by those in authority, Jesus did not shy away from speaking truth to power. Indeed, his teachings undermined the political and religious establishment of his day. It cost him his life. He was eventually crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers-that-be.

Can you imagine what Jesus’ life would have been like if, instead of being born into the Roman police state, he had been born and raised in the American police state? Consider the following if you will.

Because he was born in unsanitary conditions, a manger, Jesus parents might not have been visited by government officials and social workers intent on prosecuting them for the home birth instead of wise men and shepherds. One couple in Washington had all three of their children removed after social services objected to the two youngest being birthed in an unassisted home delivery.

If Jesus’ parents sent him to school (they did not), Jesus would have been drilled in lessons of compliance and obedience to government authorities, while learning little about his own rights.

If Jesus disappeared for 3 days as a 12-year-old in many countries today, he might be kidnapped, sold to other “parents” or forced into various kinds of abuse or slavery, maybe mining radioactive cobalt for cell phones, or making carpets or chocolate under threat of whipping as happens to millions of children now.

From infancy to adulthood, Jesus’ biometrics—would be documented, tracked, monitored and filed by governmental agencies and corporations such as Google and Microsoft.

If Jesus made contact with an “extremist” such as John the Baptist, the FBI, CIA and others would flag him for surveillance because of his association with a prominent activist, peaceful or otherwise. Since 9/11, the FBI has actively carried out surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations on a broad range of activist groups, from animal rights groups to poverty relief, anti-war groups and other such “extremist” organizations.

Because of his frequent travels, government officials might consider him “suspicious” under the Department of Homeland Security’s “See Something, Say Something” programs.

In the time of Rome, the super rich and powerful 1% controlled ~20-25% of all wealth. This meant that most every else was in slavery of some type, sometimes debt slavery, or wage slavery or the horrible chattel or sex slavery. But now, economists say that economic injustice is twice as bad. The top 1% now control over 50% of all wealth. That’s 2 times worse than Rome. And just as in Rome, many types of slavery are common in our world now. Most people live in debt for much of their lives, there is wage slavery, sex slavery and chattel slavery, just as in Rome.

Jesus repeatedly warned against greed and injustice to the poor. Twice, he overturned the economic system of exploitation in the Jewish temple, raged against the materialism of religious institutions. The whole power of the corporate world and any secular or religious people connected to them would come down hard on him, demanding either his imprisonment or death. They are doing that very thing to dissidents now like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden who expose crimes by corporations and governments

Because of his dissident activities and potential threat to power, Jesus might have had government spies planted among his followers to monitor his activities, report on his movements, and entrap him into breaking the law. This has been done in many countries, including America, to many groups working for justice, such as the Black Panthers for example.

If Jesus used the internet to spread his radical message of peace and love, he would experience many trolls trying to create confusion and conflict, some of them paid by governments or by corporations. At the very least, his website would be hacked and his email monitored.

If Jesus tried to feed the homeless, he might be arrested as happened to a 90-year-old man for feeding the homeless on a public beach in Florida.

If Jesus spoke publicly about his 40 days in the desert and his conversations with the devil, he might be forced into a psych ward or institution for the mentally insane against his will with no access to family or friends. Many have been locked up as insane for much less in America. One Virginia man was arrested, strip searched, handcuffed to a table, diagnosed as having “mental health issues,” and locked up for five days in a mental health facility against his will apparently because of his slurred speech and unsteady gait.

Had anyone reported Jesus to the police as being potentially dangerous, he might have found himself confronted—and killed—by police officers for whom any perceived act of non-compliance (a twitch, a question, a frown) can result in them shooting first and asking questions later. Government officials might have ordered that a SWAT team carry out a raid on Jesus and his followers with grenades and military equipment. There are upwards of 80,000 such SWAT team raids carried out every year, many on unsuspecting Americans who have no defense against such government invaders, even when such raids are done in error.

Or Jesus might have been made to “disappear” into a secret government detention center where he would have been interrogated, tortured and subjected to all manner of abuses. Chicago police alone have “disappeared” more than 7,000 people into a secret, off-the-books interrogation warehouse at Homan Square.

If Jesus were charged with treason and labeled a domestic terrorist, he would be sentenced to a life-term in a private prison where he would have been forced to provide slave labor for corporations or put to death by way of the electric chair or a lethal mixture of drugs.

If Jesus’ parents lived now, they might be immigrants, and might be shuffled to a profit-driven, private prison for illegals where they first would have been separated from each other, the children detained in make-shift cages, and the parents eventually pressured into cheap, forced laborers for corporations such as Starbucks, Microsoft, Walmart, Amazon and Victoria’s Secret. A lot of money to is made from imprisoning immigrants, especially when taxpayers are footing the bill. If Jesus’ family were forced to flee violence in their native country and sought refuge and asylum within our borders, would we offer them sanctuary?

The baby in the manger grew up to be a man who did not turn away from the evil and atrocities of his day, but instead spoke out against them, and we must do no less. But for many well meaning Christians, there is a disconnect in the modern church between the teachings of Christ and the suffering of what Jesus in Matthew 25 refers to as the “least of these.” In this parable, Jesus points out that when He comes back to earth, no longer a baby, but now king and judge, the questions that will determine the eternal destiny of people will be about how they treated Jesus, in the form of the poor and oppressed all around us.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”

This is not a theological gray area: Jesus was unequivocal about his views on many things, not the least of which was charity, compassion, war, tyranny and love.

In John W. Whitehead’s book, Battlefield America: The War on the American People, he explains that given the nature of government then and now, it is painfully evident that whether Jesus had been born in our modern age or his own, he still would have died at the hands of a police state.

Thus, as we draw near to Christmas with its celebrations and gift-giving, we should remember that Jesus—the baby born in Bethlehem, grew into an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, and died challenging the police state of his day, spent his adult life speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo of his day, and pushing back against the abuses of the Roman Empire. Wouldn’t he do the same now?

The renowned German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer asked himself what Jesus would have done about the horrors perpetrated by Hitler and his assassins. The answer: Bonhoeffer risked his life to undermine the tyranny at the heart of Nazi Germany.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn asked himself what Jesus would have done about the soul-destroying gulags and labor camps of the Soviet Union. The answer: Solzhenitsyn found his voice and used it to speak out about government oppression and brutality.

Wang Ming Dao refused to give up or corrupt biblical Christianity in China and was a founder of the house church movement in China. He spent many years in prison for doing this.

Martin Luther King Jr. asked himself what Jesus would have done about America’s warmongering and racism. The answer: declaring “my conscience leaves me no other choice,” King risked widespread condemnation when he publicly opposed the Vietnam War on moral and economic grounds.

Thoughtful Christians, pastors and churches the country are asking questions like this, and they have created some thought provoking nativity scenes in which Jesus and his family are separated, segregated and caged in individual chain-link pens, topped by barbed wire fencing. These nativity scenes remind us that the Christmas story is a protest of injustice and one that has applications to many issues in our modern world that has allowed the life, teachings and crucifixion of Jesus to be drowned out by partisan politics, secularism, materialism and war.

The question for us now is when we face empires and police states like Jesus and the early Christians did, are we going to react like the corrupt religious leaders and secular Roman leaders of that time did and think, well there’s nothing much we can do about it. Or are we going to overthrow the systems of injustice with love and sacrifice as Jesus and the early Christians did. Are we going to look for ways to “always do good” (1 Thess. 5:15) and to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” Proverbs 31:8-9

I hope you never think of the, “The same old Christmas story” ever again. It is a radical story and it is meant to produce radical actions in all who love the God who was born in a manger, sacrificed all his privileges for us and lived a life defending the oppressed and helpless. May we all do that better in this next year.”

Much of the last section on Jesus being born in a police state come from this article, which has links for each of its claims.

These are a couple short but powerful videos about how the birth and life of Jesus the Messiah is the real antidote for all injustice (a summary of the video is at the end).
The Christmas story an animation 圣诞节的故事 动画.

Stay Free – Trailer #1 (Immanuel)

Stay Free (part 5–How Christianity Changed the World I)

The script for the “The Christmas story…” documentary above is very eloquent and a good way to close these thoughts.

“The story of Christmas is one whose roots are planted in the creation of the universe and whose implications reach forward into ageless eternity. And if any would hope to grasp its beauty, and power and weight, it must be told like all true stories, from the beginning. This is that story. A story of the pride that ruined the peace of the universe, and then through the rebel Lucifer, arch enemy of God, brought that disease to this planet, where it has become the root cause of every broken relationship, every case of abuse, every crime, and most of the incidence of violence, terrorism and war throughout history.

God promised a Savior. But when they saw much suffering and evil, even prophets began to wonder. How long oh God until the Messiah comes and sets right all that has gone wrong due to sin?

But God had not forgotten. The time finally came to unveil His Chosen one, the Savior of all Creation. Heaven watched in stunned silence as with love and grace beyond measure, this Creator became a helpless human being. This child named Jesus was to absorb in His own body the poison of sin.

The Holy Creator took the chains of rebellion and consequences of sin on himself, the punishment we deserved. 2000 years ago, Jesus came to earth, to take our punishment. Through His death, he opened the floodgates of grace and mercy. But that’s not the end of the story. He could not be held captive by death. But if the Savior has come, why does our world still remain so broken? Our world is still racked by pain, grief, fear.

But all is not lost. The Savior has not failed. One major prophecy has yet to be fulfilled. People will see the Son of man coming in His glory and power. All that is wrong will be made right, all that is broken will be healed. All the works of men will be evaluated and rewarded, but the one for whom all things exist. The blind will see. The lame will walk. Darkness will be banished from the earth forever.

Those who hoped and trusted in Him will see the long night of sin pass away. They will come face to face with the One who is their eternal joy, never to be apart again. The former things will be passed. He will make all things new.”

One of the best things Christians can do to promote God’s truths, inspire work against injustice and oppression, encourage more donations to help, aid the suffering and spread God’s gospel injustice is to celebrate Christmas, which points to the God who is the defender of the oppressed and all who are treated unjustly. Celebrate Christmas with godliness and joy and use it to promote God’s truths and work for justice for those who are less fortunate than we are.

A couple parts of this article are based on this article which compares the Roman police state to modern police states: