Helping the poor and needy was a common topic for Jesus during his brief mortal journey and priority to His chosen prophets in any dispensation, but let’s not mistaken modern terminology and misinterpret the messianic message.For Mormons the popular sermon by King Benjamin summarizes the connection between our doing and gospel doctrine.
“…when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” Mosiah 2:17
In the life and teaching of Jesus we see a mountain of examples of our modern political term social justice. We need to stop arguing about “social justice” and instead, follow the example of Jesus. So, was he advocating for social justice?
The simple answer is an emphatic NO. The true behind the answer is this, “if it’s not voluntary, it’s not from God.” God never forces us to do anything, even if its critical to our health, happiness, and salvation. There is no difference in his teachings. He never preached that anything should be forced onto someone.
The gospel was meant to be lived in the lives of people not forced by governments upon the people. He advocated living values in our lives, not voting for them in other lives.
In fact, Napoleon Hill give a stark warning by the misunderstanding and thus misapplication of the gospel. He said, “the devil will take over America by the ballot box, not by bullets.”
- The mission and message of Jesus is pretty clearly summarized in Luke 4:18-19. He wants to give sight to the blind, liberty to the captives, and deliverance to the oppressed. If we look at the actions of Jesus throughout the Gospels, He did these things both spiritually and physically. Sometimes Jesus met people’s physical needs before He addressed their spiritual needs, and other times He addressed their spiritual needs first.
- Jesus was not into free handouts. Yes, Jesus gave free meals and free healthcare to people. But notice a few things about these events. First, the people He is helping are almost always people who are following Him or who have sought Him out in some way. When He feeds the five thousand, it was because they had been listening to His teachings and He had gone on so long that they all became hungry and had not brought any food. The vast majority of these people were not homeless. They were not unemployed. They just forgot to bring food. Later, when word gets around that Jesus was giving free meals, and people started showing up just the free stuff, Jesus pretty much chased them away (cf. John 6).
- Jesus never called on the government to provide free stuff. Not once did Jesus ever call on the Roman Empire, or the local Israelite authorities to raise taxes so that the poor and unemployed could be taken care of. Taking care of the poor and needy in the community was a priority of Jesus, but He never saw this as the responsibility of the government. Taking care of the poor and needy in the community was the responsibility of the individual person, or of local groups. Source