Apparently not content with his congressional majority that wishes to force Americans on a long march to health care disaster, President Obama has invoked the name of Jesus to broadcast his gospel of spreading around the wealth.
Speaking Monday afternoon to a group of children from a Northeast Washington Boys & Girls Club, the president delivered a minisermon on "why we celebrate Christmas." He asked the children if they knew. One piped up and said, "the birth of baby Jesus."
One can imagine the reaction of the media and other elites had a Republican president asked such a question. That Republican would have been accused of violating church-state separation and discriminating against those who celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or nothing. Because the president's Christmas lesson perfectly fit his social goals, there has been no outcry.
The president spoke of what Jesus "symbolizes for people all around the world," which, he said, "is the possibility of peace and people treating each other with respect." Then, in the best tradition of a community organizer, the president said Jesus is about "doing something for other people." Even the "three wise men" were invoked to support the president's idea of wealth redistribution: "These guys ... have all this money, they've got all this wealth and power, and they took a long trip to a manger just to see a little baby."
What conclusion should be drawn from that journey? The president told the children that "it just shows you that because you're powerful or you're wealthy, that's not what's important. What's important is ... the kind of spirit you have."
To the president, that means the spirit of government taking from the productive and giving to the nonproductive. To him, Jesus was a socialist or perhaps an early Robin Hood. Any first-year seminarian (if the seminary is a good one) could destroy this flawed exegesis.
Jesus of Nazareth was not a symbol. Neither was He just a good teacher, as some who do not fully accept His teachings about Himself like to claim. As Paul the Apostle put it, "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst" (1 Timothy 1:15).
The call of Scripture is to do for other people as we would like to have done unto us, but that call is personal, not corporate. That's because only people can be compassionate. A government check too often brings dependence and a sense of entitlement. A personal touch builds relationships horizontally with others and vertically with God.
One upside to the current recession is that it has forced people to reconsider their priorities. To paraphrase one of the better-known lines from the film "It's a Wonderful Life," the recession has given us a great gift: the ability to see what our lives would look like without stuff.
We still have stuff - too much, in fact. Letting go of some of it has not caused people to die in the streets - despite the ludicrous claim by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that someone dies in America every 10 minutes because he or she lacks health insurance.
Anyone young enough to have living grandparents or great-grandparents should take a few minutes this Christmas to ask them what life was like when they were growing up. How many presents did they receive? Unless they came from wealthy families, they didn't get much by today's standards, and they probably were more satisfied than we who have more than we need.
That's the thing about stuff: We know it doesn't satisfy, but we gorge ourselves on it anyway, hoping the marketers are right and somehow it will bring satisfaction.
What those "wise men" brought were symbols - gold, frankincense and myrrh. What they symbolized was the grandeur of the baby who would become a man and who, in the words of John the Baptist, would "take away the sins of the world" (John 1:29).
Ponder that this Christmas and every Christmas.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist.