My friend Cody did it again. He has been writing deeply thought out Facebook posts with deep insights. In this one, he uses biblical teachings to show why the America Evangelicals preach of as a Christian nation does not exist.
I have always challenged the notion that America was founded on Christian principles given its violent genesis and the deism of many of the founding fathers. Not being a biblical scholar, reading Cody's words, a man who attended divinity school, adds gravitas to the notion that Evangelicals may be closer to the Pharisees than Christians. As always, Cody's posts always gives an out with his message.
Leviticus ch. 25 talks about how every 50th year shall be a year of jubilee. This shall be a year when all slaves are freed and all debts are forgiven. This year of jubilee was a year of great celebration as those who owed debts saw their burdens unloaded and freedom enter their lives once again.
The Bible is very critical of "debt" to begin with. In America, it is normal to give someone a loan and charge them interest, but Ezekiel 18:13 condemns the charging of interest stating "He lends at interest and takes a profit. Will such a man live? He will not! Because he has done all these detestable things, he is to be put to death; his blood will be on his own head." Exodus 22:25 says if you loan someone money, you shall not charge interest. Psalms 112:5 says "Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice".
Even without having interest charged, owing money to someone else was still a great burden. Proverbs 22:7 described the lender-lendee relationship by saying "The wealthy rule over the poor, and anyone who borrows is a slave to the lender". Every Year of Jubilee, the trumpets sounded, debts were freed up, and freedom was given to all of those who owed money, regardless of how much.
This was not just an old testament thing. The very first message Jesus preached harkened back to the message of jubilee. He quoted Isaiah 61 and boldly set forth a message that would from that time forward explain his ministry on earth: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord."
That "favorable year of the Lord" is referring to the year of jubilee. Notice that Jesus didn't proclaim his ministry as one of judgment, of condemnation, or anger, of rage, of debt, of venture capitalism, of theocracy, or of Republican Party politics. He began his earthly ministry with a message of freedom and victory, of giving good news to the poor, freedom to the captives, liberty to the oppressed, sight to the blind, and the year of jubilee.
Regardless of what they say, America is not a Christian nation today but a nation mired in the sin of greed. Like Aaron, while Moses was on the mountain, the American church has bowed down and worshiped the calf made of gold (or the money made of green) and the idea of jubilee will never be seen anytime soon in America. Instead of freedom to the captives, we can expect interest, debt, and judgment, which is supported by our churches. This will be the case until, as it is called to do by the Prophet John in the Book of Revelation ch. 2 verse 4 the church returns to its first true love.
In the meantime, we should celebrate jubilee in our lives every day. We cannot free people back from their financial debts, but regardless of our religious beliefs, we can forgive others, see other people as ends in themselves and not as means to an end, help other people, respect other people as human beings, and do all we can to increase freedom and decrease suffering. We must do all we can to end oppression in every way possible.
We can also celebrate jubilee in our own lives and choose to live in victory, regardless of what circumstances surround us. The storms of Trump's reign may encircle us, and we must fight his oppression and tyranny, but we cannot let him kill our joy, our spirit, and our optimism. Instead, we should soar over mountains of defeat, walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and never fear evil. We don't have to be afraid of the dark, but the dark should be afraid of us because we refuse to be defeated and that is how we live our lives, with hope. No matter how heavy oppression becomes, we will always win as long as faith, hope, and love (things no oppressor can ever destroy) guide our lives.
Even if unrestrained American capitalism doesn't accept the idea of jubilee, we can make it a daily part of our lives. Not only will it makes us better people, but it will also make the world a better place.