The Reverend Tim Jones from England has stated in a recent sermon that he feels that the poor should steal food from major department store chains if they have no other ethical means of receiving food to sustain their own lives.
‘My advice, as a Christian priest, is to shoplift,’ he told his stunned congregation at St Lawrence and St Hilda in York.
‘I do not offer such advice because I think that stealing is a good thing, or because I think it is harmless, for it is neither.
‘I would ask that they do not steal from small family businesses, but from large national businesses, knowing that the costs are ultimately passed on to the rest of us in the form of higher prices.
’I would ask them not to take any more than they need. I offer the advice with a heavy heart. Let my words not be misrepresented as a simplistic call for people to shoplift.’
My question to Rev. Jones is this: If you have such a “heavy heart” for the poor, then why are you not doing anything meet the need that would cause them to steal in the first place?
So long as the church doors continue to open and close every Sabbath, that church is trusted with a responsibility. One that, as Jesus put it so well to Peter in John 21:15-17, is to “Feed my sheep” and “tend to my flock.” That not only applies to preaching to the flock, but literally, feeding them also. And you know what? It goes beyond that. Clothing them, sheltering them if need be. But if you are not doing these things, then you are failing to grasp what Jesus asked of pastors.
Jesus also went on to say, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” If Jesus commanded us to feed and tend to his flock, and we neglect to do so, simply put, WE DO NOT LOVE HIM!
Jesus went on to even suggest that to not do these things would be reflected as our attitude of what we would do for Jesus. When we look at what will happen in the end of days, Jesus said the world would be separated into two groups: one who did these things, and one who didn’t. To the one who did, he says, “Whatever you did unto the least of these, you have done to me.” That group enters Heaven. To the one who didn’t, he says “Whatever you didn’t do unto the least of these, neither have you done to me.” And that group enters the into eternal suffering and gnashing of the teeth.
Proverbs also says in 3:27-28 “Don’t withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it. Don’t say to your neighbor, ‘Go, and come again; tomorrow I will give it to you,’ when you have it by you.” If your church doors are able to open and shut, you have the means necessary to provide for the poor of your congregation, and those that pass by.
If there was a genuine, heavy, heart in this minister for the poor, that church would have either a food pantry, a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, or all of the above. He would not have to tell the poor in his congregation to steal from Wal-Mart & Co. in order to eat, because they would be fed by his church. And then he would be actually performing his God-ordained service to the world. But he has failed to realize this.
Beyond this, what he is now preaching as a spiritual right now throws “Sin is sin,” out of the window, and throws sin into a grey area. It throws it into a bracket where “Sin is sin, unless it’s in this circumstance, or another circumstance.” So, if we apply his teaching to other areas, murder is sin, unless it’s done against someone who wronged you (despite Jesus telling us to forgive seventy times seven times). Homosexuality is sin, unless you can’t find someone of the opposite sex to marry and have sex with (despite Leviticus, and Romans chapter 1 both saying that homosexuality is sexual sin, and an abomination of God, and even at a biological standpoint, has no procreatic purpose, only to satiate desires of the flesh). Lying is wrong, unless your lie makes someone feel good. Adultery is sin, unless your wife cheated on you first.
So my question is, where does the grey area stop? The answer is, it should’ve never began.