Letter: It's important to love our neighbors
In the December 30 edition of your paper, a gentlemen named Jerrod Schultes seemed particularly distressed about my letter to the editor in which I claimed the early followers of Jesus were communist. Mr. Schultes claimed I was "obviously confused" and that my letter was "full of false statements and deceit." I quoted from Acts 1:44-45 where it states: "All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need." I noted that this sounded almost identical to the definition of communism found in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which states that communism is "a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed." However, Mr. Schultes made the claim that these verses in Acts only meant that the early followers "were united in their belief, not their income." Unfortunately this interpretation doesn't hold water because Acts 4:32 states clearly, "Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common." If you have further doubts Mr. Schultes, read Acts 5 where two believers sell a piece of land and only bring part of the proceeds to the Apostle Peter while keeping the rest for themselves. I'll spoil it for you, they both end up dead. There is no doubt that the early followers were communist and were moved and inspired by the Holy Spirit to reject the accumulation of personal wealth and property and to use what they had to benefit others in need. To claim otherwise is to go against what God's word states quite clearly.
As far as your interpretation of the Parable of the Ten Talents to mean that "God took from the lazy, poor man, and gave to the hard working, rich man" I can only say that your preconceived notions and stereotypes of the poor are self evident. The thought that God would take from the poor and give to the rich is blasphemous and heretical. God has always sided with the oppressed and the impoverished as they were at the heart of Jesus' ministry. Before he was even born, Mary sang "He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty" (Luke 1:52-53). Or perhaps you prefer the words of Jesus himself when he stated so very clearly, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation" (Luke 6:20; 24). Personally, I prefer the words of the prophet Ezekiel as he explains why God destroyed the city of Sodom: "This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and the needy" (Ezekiel 16:49).
I agree with you Mr. Schultes and do not support state-sanctioned communism. I do not believe people should be forced by the government to relinquish all they have. However, I must also speak up when people begin to think that capitalism and personal prosperity are God ordained and approved. They are not. It is clear that God wants to challenge us and push us to live more communally, loving our neighbors as ourselves, denying ourselves and taking up the cross, and resisting the temptation to store up treasures for ourselves in this earthly world. Rather, God wants us to trust him to provide and use all he gives us to accomplish his will, which is "to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8). Jesus' own words were, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40). I find no confusion, deception, or falsity in that.