In many countries and certainly the U.S., this term “liberal” has become simply and only thought of in a political context. No doubt there is a portion of the populace who understand it in other ways. One dictionary offers this:
Origin 1325-75; Middle English Latin līberālis of freedom, befitting the free, equivalent to līber, free
(adjective) 1. favorable to progress or reform, as in political or religious affairs.
I would say these accurately describe Jesus with the exception of the word “political” but certainly re. “religious affairs”. Then again, His life, teaching, acts and love absolutely got in the face and threatened the political powers of both Israel and Rome in His days of ministry so we cannot fully claim Him “apolitical” in that sense.
Yes, in the truest sense, spiritual progress and reform- “liberal” quite fits Him, like it or not.
Have you ever picked up that there are things in scripture, U.S. political positions (Dem., Rep. Tea and the rest) that I take personal issue with, things in the very Word of God, even Jesus’ own words that I DISLIKE? I do. So what?! I am no more God than any reading this. Sometimes we have to face the fact we are plain wrong, or out of balance one way or the other, ignorant of elements of a position or just hard-hearted and want our way, considering all others “the enemy”.
Jesus knew who His enemies were and why they took such a position. He interacted, spoke with, ate with and even brought healing to a number of them. Some began friends and ended up enemies, some vice-versa and in the end “He didn’ț entrust Himself to humankind because He knew what was in the hearts of humankind”. (John 2.24,25)
None is righteous, not even one. We all often make mistakes. All through the Bible and human history this is clear as can be.
So… don’ț we somehow “get off” on vilifying our enemies? Jesus rarely spoke anything you could call “trash talk” about those He disagreed with, but that is SO unlike humans.
Yes, I think Jesus was truly liberal in the best sense of the word- He gave grace and mercy to those who in NO WAY earned it, He called us to share what we have with those in need and both demonstrated compassion yet directly confronted some downright wicked people. He was not doing anything to jockey for position “but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2.7)
Does this sound like you… or me? I mean overall, is THIS the attitude we walk around with?
How quickly we are ready to fight. “Love your enemies? Turn the other cheek? Do good to those who hate you? Pray for your enemies?” IS THIS HOW WE TRULY LIVE AMONGST ONE ANOTHER?!
Shall I love them conservatively or liberally? Hmmm.
I argue Jesus poured out His blood liberally. “He died once FOR ALL” though true enough, “not all have faith” and not all will (or in this life nor after life) FOLLOW Him. Not all will deny themselves. Not everybody will pick up their cross. Faith, hope, love and indeed obedience to God via His Son and the Word of His Son by the power of the Holy Spirit (whom we can both obey as well as grieve and/or quench in our lives) is NOT common nor shall it be on this earth. It is far more common to build castles, moats, pull up the drawbridge and fire salvos at the attackers.
What happens when it is God Himself knocking on your door?
How I and you, dear reader, respond is what it’s all about.
Reform, godly sorrow that works repentance, change of heart and even attitude toward others is what (in the practical) has changed my own life from a train-wreck to one of peace and a growing awareness of my continuing deep need for more of Jesus.
In all this, He calls me to serve others in the best ways I am able and to leave petty pecking-order nonsense outside the door.
I think by God’s grace, I am making progress. Wow… imagine that! 🙂 Glory: to God.
As always, thanks for stopping by, -Glenn