In groups of two or three, consider the following two questions:
Consider how governments raise taxes from us as individuals as well as through businesses, and what essential services they spend the revenue on. Now consider the following question:
For poor country governments, tax revenue comes almost entirely through business – especially large international businesses. Poor countries such as Malawi or Tanzania that are rich in minerals could generate their own money to pay for anti-poverty programmes and in the process become more independent.
But this is not the case. Christian Aid partners and local organisations in many countries where we work are calling for greater financial transparency of tax systems to help make both companies and governments for their payment and use of taxes.
That way, those countries will have more resources to pay for much needed services, to grow their economies and eventually to lift themselves out of poverty.
What the Bible says
As Christians, we believe in the Trinity, a community bound together by love and moving constantly towards each other in self-giving. And the Holy Trinity is defined by its relationship. Love is not a thing. It only finds its meaning in relationship.
The essence of God is in eternal relationship. We see this from the most early biblical metaphor, where, in Genesis 1, God says ‘Let us make humankind in our image.’ (Gen 1:27) Later in chapter 2, he goes on to say ‘It is not good for the man to be alone’ (Gen 2:18). From the outset, God is presented as a relational being.
We are made in the image of and are baptised into this relational, triune God. We are created for community, for relationship with one another. The trinity is the story of God’s love reaching into our lives, and it is in this relationship that we are called to live.
Questions for reflection:
What do you think it means to be made in the image of God? What blocks does the world put in way of this? What resources do people need to live in this image?
If we are made in the image of God, what responsibilities does this give us?
How does tax justice speak to us of the mutual love that is at the heart of the trinity? How does this mutual love affect our view of aid and charity? How can tax justice transform our view of aid?
In the Trinity we see a perfect model of sharing power – in a way that is empowering to all of humanity. In what practical ways could we share the financial power in our world and become less hierarchical?
Think about all the items you have bought over the last three days. Which people have affected by your choice to spend money on these? How does this connect you to them?
Now read Luke 12:2-3
Jesus’ teaching here is directed against the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, whose appearance of piety did not match their true motivations. This is set as an example of the darkness of the world and unbelief and the living in the light of Christ.
Spend a moment considering some examples of hypocrisy, both in your personal life and in the life of our nation. How do these mismatch with Jesus’ teaching?
Do we make excuses that God does not see everything we do? Would we live differently if so?
If we are committed to living in true relationship, we cannot stand by and watch actions taking place in the dark that deny life-giving mutuality to others.
As the church, the body of Christ, we are responsible in playing our part in God’ rule on earth today. And this involves collective as well as individual actions.
Jesus commands his disciples to share the good news and bring life to others and promises that they will be empowered to do this through the Spirit (John 14:26). The Greek word for Spirit is Paracletos, and one interpretation of this is ‘advocate’ – one who will speak up for you.
If we are to live in a Trinitarian relationship, we are bound to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Christian Aid wants the introduction of new accounting standards that will require companies to reveal the profits they are making and the taxes they are paying in every country around the world.