Tomorrow, the Christian world pauses to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. When most people think of Jesus, they view him as a personal savior whose teachings and example provide peace and guidance on how one should live.
But it’s also interesting to apply His teachings to the public policy problems that beset communities, states and nations. He taught simple truths, but those tenets were revolutionary enough in his day that he was put to death for them. His truths, applied to our day, could bring much more peace and joy to society.
I believe that a good share of the problems that beset society, that governments struggle to solve, could be avoided if we did not ignore, disobey, and dishonor the humble teachings of Jesus.
Anyone involved in public policy knows our society faces difficult problems. The best minds in the world grapple with these challenges – and never totally solve them. Despite great amounts of legislation, presidential decrees, court orders, newspaper editorials and all that man can do, the problems of the world are not eliminated; in some cases, they seem to grow.
As we apply Jesus’ teachings to the troubles of the world, we see major contrasts between the way He approaches problems and the way society deals with them. Both approaches are certainly necessary, but most of the public focus is on society’s solutions.
We immediately notice that society mostly works on the effects and results of problems, while Jesus focused on the root causes. Society’s answer to war and crime is larger armies, more sophisticated weapons, tougher law enforcement, more policemen, and bigger prisons. Jesus’ answer is to love your neighbor as yourself; do to others as you would have them do to you; and teach children correct principles in loving families. One approach would actually eliminate war and crime. The other, while necessary, never gets to the root causes.
Society’s answer to problems like poverty and family dysfunction is food stamps, homeless shelters, child protective services, divorce counseling, and substance abuse programs. Jesus’ approach is reliance upon self, family and church; re-enthroning the principles of hard work, and teaching the virtues of chastity, love and service. One approach would actually solve these problems. The other helps those presently afflicted. Both are clearly necessary, but it is obvious that Jesus’ approach should be emphasized more than it is today.
Society’s approach wins headlines and is the subject of legislation and political speeches. Jesus’ approach is quiet, taught in churches and homes. Jesus’ way requires that individual lives be changed, person by person. It takes time and effort, but is designed to truly revolutionize society and soothe the troubles of mankind.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Congress would implement Jesus’ approach as a national policy? No, that would be impossible. Each of us must implement it within ourselves.