December 6th, 2011
12:10 PM ET
My Take: Jesus was a free marketer, not an Occupier
Editor's note: Tony Perkins is president of the Family Research Council in Washington.
By Tony Perkins, Special to CNN
(CNN) - One of the last instructions Jesus gave his disciples was "Occupy till I come."
As Jesus was about to enter Jerusalem for the last time, just before his crucifixion, he was keenly aware that his disciples greatly desired and even anticipated that the kingdom of God was going to be established immediately on the earth.
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As a way to break the news that it wasn't going to happen in the manner and with the timing they expected, Jesus pulled them aside and gave them instructions by way of a parable.
The primary purpose of the parable, which appears in the Gospel of Luke, was to make clear to his disciples that the kingdom of God would not be physically established on the earth for some time and that, until then, they were being entrusted with certain responsibilities.
Jesus, depicted as a ruler in the story, would have to leave for a while as he traveled to a faraway place to receive authority to reign over the kingdom. In his absence, the disciples - depicted as servants - were to "occupy" until he returned.
Here's the direct quote from Luke: "He called his ten servants, and gave to them ten minas, one mina each (a mina today would be worth around $225), and he then told them to 'Occupy till I come.' " (Luke 19:13, King James Version)
But just what does Jesus' order to occupy mean? Does it mean take over and trash public property, as the Occupy movement has? Does it mean engage in antisocial behavior while denouncing a political and economic system that grants one the right and luxury to choose to be unproductive?
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No, the Greek term behind the old English translation literally means "be occupied with business." As with all parables, Jesus uses a common activity such as fishing or farming to provide a word picture with a deeper spiritual meaning.
From a spiritual perspective, the mina in this parable represents the opportunity of life; each of us is given the same opportunity to build our lives, and each of us shares the same responsibility to invest our lives for the purpose of bringing a return and leaving a legacy. Jesus gave equal responsibility and opportunity to each of his 10 servants.
The fact that Jesus chose the free market system as the basis for this parable should not be overlooked. When the nobleman returns, after being established as king - a stand-in for Jesus - he calls all his servants together to see what they had accomplished in his absence.
The first servant reports a nice profit: 10 minas. While the story lacks specifics on whether he invested the money in a herd of sheep or a hedge fund, we do know that he made his gain by engaging in business transactions of some sort. He used a free market system to bring a tenfold return on investment. No doubt such a return took a lot of diligent, dedicated effort.
The newly established king praises the servant and gives him a reward that's an even greater return on his efforts, "because you have been faithful in very little I will give you authority over ten cities."
Likewise the second servant in the story, who had turned his one mina into five, is praised and rewarded with greater responsibilities: He is given five cities.
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The third servant in the story had apparently either slept through his economics course or was just indifferent to the work delegated to him.
He had essentially kept the capital entrusted to him under his mattress for safekeeping.
When called to give an account of what he had accomplished, the man immediately attempts to shift the focus off his failure with excuses of how unfair the boss was because he was always trying to get more than he deserved for his money.
The employee review is immediate and intense: "Out of your own mouth will I judge you, you wicked servant." The king's disappointment and frustration are nearly palpable. "Why didn't you at least put the money in the bank and draw interest?" the king inquires.
While such language might prompt an HR complaint today, its meaning was quite clear to the disciples. There are no excuses for doing nothing.
Parables generally have a twist near the end, a final jolt to drive the point home. This one is no exception. The ruler orders that the capital, or opportunity, given to the lazy servant be taken from him and given to the most productive servant. "To everyone who has, more shall be given," the Bible reads, "but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away."
Jesus rejected collectivism and the mentality that has occupied America for the last few decades: that everyone gets a trophy - equal outcomes for inequitable performance. There are winners and yes, there are losers. And wins and losses are determined by the diligence and determination of the individual.
Some would argue that such an approach encourages abuses, the likes of which we have seen on Wall Street. While some egregious abuses have taken place, they are not inevitable or intrinsic to free enterprise.
The parable of the king and the servants endorses the principles of business and the free market when properly employed.
Remember, these servants were not working for themselves, but under the constraints of their lord and for his benefit. Likewise our free market system works when bridled by morality. Not arbitrary morality that changes with political parties, but transcendent moral principles.
Yes, we are to "occupy," not by railing against a free market system that rewards diligence, even though it is occasionally abused. Rather we are to occupy by using that system ethically as a means to advance the interests of the one we serve.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Tony Perkins.
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
What, may I ask is wrong with letting us conservative folks have a say? Why is it that anytime a conservative person says ANYTHING, all the liberals let up a yell?? Isn't the point of the media to allow everyone free speech? I enjoyed Tony's article and I believe it made sense.
Just SHUT yer MOUTH!
He got his article on CNN didn't he ???? Regardless of the perversions of true Christianity throughout his twisted interpretation of gospel , CNN posted this article . What , you don't like the fact that many disagree and post responses reflecting that ???? Typical right wing fascist response , we're right and don't disagree with us or else . Bugger off troll .
"The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Tony Perkins" If only that were true!
Rabbi Jesus also wanted the rich to pool there money any give it to the poor. But when people quote what Rabbi Jesus where do they get there info the national enquire, the bible all were wriiten by man way after Rabbi Jesus died. Oh ya did you know Jesus was a Rabbi and proud to be a Jew.
It is known that so called " Christians " somehow forget that Jesus was a Rabbi .
Yeah , right ....... Jesus was a free market , deregulating , Greed Over People , welfare for the wealthy and global corporations , and to heck with the poor ( it's their own fault ! ) Republican !!!!! I aint' one to believe in any religion , organized or not , but this guy Perkins strikes me as being much further from being a Christian than even myself . Sheesh , what a fraud .
This reads like a story in the Onion!
As does the bible. Deserves all the Onion satire and other fun-poking it gets, too.
This is pure BS. "each of us is given the same opportunity to build our lives" Wrong again, Perkins. You remain forever clueless.
This is a put-on, right CNN? It reads like it's straight from "The Onion."
Jesus is long dead and has completely rotted away. Move along now.
Red Alert! There is kinder more gentile Bob running about.
fred, how's that goat sacrifice going? Got that fire flesh-burning hot yet? Your nasty egomaniac Christian god-ass-hole will be angry with you if you haven't.
I'm more worried about the nasty egomaniac ass-hole named Bob with the god complex.
It's ironic that you would use a text from the Gospel of Luke to support the idea that Jesus would have been a free market capitalist. However, I have something far more poignant to say to you. STOP. Stop right now.
My God is not for sale, and I will not allow you to co-opt his name in your insignificant political squabbling.
Amen! You cannnot serve God and money!
Further proof that the bible, that "word of god", is not a divine work by a perfect, omnipotent being. It is open to interpretation, and it is full of errors.
Ey, how much want for the God. And the Jesus, how much for the little Jesus?
For you one dollar. You can have Holie Ghostie too.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he 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,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 4:18-19
Jesus also said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
(The Gospel of Luke, Ch. 6:20)
Jesus, said, good news poor, you are going to stay poor and sick, and god isn't going to lift a finger to help you. Never has, never will. God doesn't exist.
What do we need gods for when you got atheists with god complexes?
Really? Did he really just turn Jesus' teachings into making as much money as possible. This parable is not about money but about souls. What did Jesus say about the government? "Give to Ceasar what is Ceasar's". What did our Savior say about money? "It will be like a camel going through the eye of a needle before a rich man gets into heaven". Do not listen to these hypocrites... they blasphemy the word of GOD. Come unto Christ... Live by his real words and meanings... and let the hypocrites learn what the gnashing of teeth is about.
Come unto Christ
couple of ra ra's
My Take: Jesus Ain't Y'all's Ping Pong Ball
May the Lord rebuke you.
–May the Lord rebuke you.
May the dog puke all over you.
This writer is the "false prophet" type Jesus warned about.
He obviously has no clue concerning the teachings of Jesus or is
willfully distorting the truth. Talk about straining out the gnat and swallowing the camel.
Typical Bible distortion coming from twisted men.
That writer is a false Bob.
That Jesus is a false God.
I don't think this parable was meant to be taken literally with regards to actual money. The minas or talents in this story could represent the ability of the servants to spread the true meaning behind their lord's message. Otherwise, the literal interpretation here basically advocates usury.
"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God."
"You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
"When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."
If anything, Jesus taught about getting outside your worldy zone of comfort for a faith in a greater cause which he called God but which in the here and now means love and justice. I see this this reflected in the people who choose, for better or worse, to go out in the streets to protest the runaway greed that has taken hold of our global society.
You got it!
Now get back to your goat sacrifice or god will be very angry and will send a violent storm at you.
And low, though few fish and little bread was given to him, Jesus produced enough of each to feed his many followers.
As the crowd did gather, the Lord spoke, saying 'one dollar for bread 2 dollars for fish.'
And having an infinite supply of cheap bread and fish, the lord didst undercut competing fishers and bakers.
And driving them out of business he didst establish a monopoly.
And having the market cornered The Lord didst jack up the price.
And when the poor came to the door of the great mansion of The Lord begging, for they could not afford his bread, the Lord didst proclaim
'it is thine own fault for not working hard enough!' And he bade his guards dress in riot gear and beat them and spray them with pepper spray.
And they did so and The Lord was merry.
Best thing I've read in a long time. Excellent!
Another of the "Prosperity Christians" (eye of a needle anyone) telling it like they want it.
"Anthony Richard "Tony" Perkins (born March 20, 1963) is president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian think tank..."
And now we see his intellect working... How impressing... Mankind is saved, no doubt about that.
I wonder if Tony Perkins realizes he is in danger of hell? He seems so out of touch with Biblical reality that it is scary. I'm a conservative, orthodox Christian who leads a medium sized small town church – mostly blue collar and some white collar workers. His willingness to "use" Jesus for his own ends doesn't speak well of Tony actually believing in Jesus or following Him as Lord.
Yes, I agree.
They're all gonna laugh at you. LOL
Hell was created by stupid conservative idiots like you who enjoy tormenting people with the ideology that if one doesn't follow your hipocrictical faith that they are doomed for hell. This guy is obviously an idiot and an oportunistic, but he is no where different than you. HAPPY HOLIDAYS.
I wonder what the real jesus would say about all you fools who think you are actually better than everyone else with you Christian Movement. You're no different then suicide bombing muslims.
Wow a right wing religious group, that detests liberals, claiming jesus would have been a capitalist. Now theres a surprise.
Jesus WAS an occupier of sorts. He occupied the Temple at Jerusalem and overthrew the tables of the money changers. As for the rest of this "piece", it's pretty disconnected.