We have hit that time where words like conservative and liberal are getting thrown around like spaghetti in a food fight. It has come to be that you almost never hear the word Christian without the adjective 'conservative' attached as though they are interminably linked. Is it so difficult to think that being liberal is the way we are suppose to be as Christians?
When in the lexicon of American culture or the Christian church, did being liberal come to be seen as a negative or opposing fundamental Christian beliefs? When did being conservative become synonymous with being a 'good Christian'?
The word 'liberal' has had a long history, both good and bad, dating back to the 14th century. Believe it or not, it was actually used in the early 20th century to describe Christian churches that held to less dogmatic practices and beliefs. Many think that being liberal is the antithesis of being Christian. But according to scripture, being liberal and being a follower of Christ should go hand in hand.
If we are to look seriously at this issue, we need to look at the definition of the word liberal.
Just looking at what Webster's Dictionary is tell us, being liberal doesn't sound the slightest bit negative. But how does this all lead to going hand in hand with being a Christian? Let's break the definition down and see what scripture says about it.
“Possessing or manifesting a free and generous heart”
Matthew 6:33 calls us to seek God's kingdom and all his righteousness. One of the aspects of that righteousness is a generous spirit. Psalm 37:21 says ”The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously; . . .”. And in Deuteronomy 15:10, we hear the command “Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to."
So from just these few verses, we can see that God wants us to have a heart that is generous to all without moaning or complaining. He has told us that when we are generous, we will be blessed.
In an article by HealthResearchFunding.org, some interesting statistics on tithing are noted. Did you know that 37% of Americans who identify as Evangelical Christians and who attend church every week don't give any money to their church. Imagine the ministry work that could be done with an additional $139 million annually that could become available if every Christian followed the Old Testament standard of giving. And when God said we would be blessed, is it coincidence that 8 out of 10 people who tithe regularly have less debt, including have zero credit card debit, than other demographics? So isn't this something we should be striving towards as Christians?
“Appropriate and/or fitting for a broad and enlightened mind”
I don't think any of us need to look up the definition of what an enlightened mind is. It's not some abstract idea. All an enlightened mind is is to have an instructed, open and reasonable mind.
Does God want us to just blindly follow him? As Christians, we are told to be transformed by the renewing of our minds in Romans chapter 12. What does that mean? It means that we are to educate ourselves on what is pleasing to God not the world, be open to his teachings and follow him in what is righteous and holy. By doing this we no longer “conform to the pattern of this world.” That's sounds pretty enlightened to me.
“Free from narrowness, bigotry, or bondage to authority or creed”
Free from bigotry. Not many people are going to raise their hands and openly confess to being a bigot, especially Christians. But we see it all the time in the news and in social media. Bigotry is very simple at it's core. It is a complete intolerance of any creed, belief or opinion that differs from one's own.
Let's take the recent developments that have been splashed across the headlines lately. When we lump all Muslims, radical or otherwise, into one group and ban them from crossing the threshold of this country, whether you want to admit it to yourself, that's bigotry. When you say that a transgender kid is banned from the locker room or the restroom that matches their gender identity, that's bigotry. When you support legislation that puts limits on two people, regardless of their sexual orientation, from marrying, that is bigotry.
Bigotry is the ultimate form of favoritism. It's an intolerance of someone who doesn't fit your personal opinions or beliefs. God's word is very clear on this matter. The book of James, in chapter 2, talks about not showing favoritism. There are multiple verses throughout the Bible that speak about loving one another just as Christ loves us.
But the scriptures go further. “Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” Luke 6:37. Our actions are a direct result of the motives and the condition of our heart and our mind. When we judge others, we put ourselves above them and cast our own beliefs on them. If our hearts and minds are one of judgment and prejudice, them our actions will display that. If our hearts are after God's own heart, then wouldn't we be showing love and acceptance just as Christ loved and accepted Jew and Gentile alike? If you question this, read Galatians 3:28.
One of the many key differences between liberal and conservative Christians is that the liberal Christian doesn't force their beliefs on others. Christ often said through out his ministry here on earth “Come to me”. He didn't force his beliefs on anyone. It is a choice to believe or not to believe. Whether or not someone believed didn't stop Christ from ministering to those in need.
In a study done by LifeWay Reasearch of nearly 3000 Protestant church goers, fifty nine percent stated they find themselves thinking about biblical truths throughout the day yet only 19% read the Bible on a daily basis. What does it say about Christians in America when 89% of all American households own a Bible yet over half the respondents of the survey stated they read the Bible once a week or less?
It is not easy to set aside our own personal opinions and biases. We all too often fall into the trap of listening to our own desires. But if we are ones who are truly following God, then we should understand the instruction Paul gave in his letter to the Ephesians. “You were taught [leading back to the enlightenment], with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self (behavior), which is being corrupted and deluded by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24.
Would you like to receive updates right in your email box? It’s free and will never be used for spam..
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. You can opt out at any time.