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Jesus was a liberal

Our natural bent is toward conservatism. We want stability. We want things to be the same across the board. We want people to be held by the same standards and for those standards to be the same in every situation. We want yes and no answers. Black and white contrasts. While we may not always actually live this way, we strive for it in the way we answer people’s questions, the way we debate politics and theology, and so on.
Liberal thinking requires getting outside the box. Liberal thinking is broad spectrum, big picture, outside of me, empathetic, holistically focused. It’s harder to do. For example, I would be labeled a theological liberal on some issues. I was recently discussing a Bible related issue with some guys who would have been labeled theologically conservative by most. At first I just asked questions, attempting to walk in their shoes and perceive the Scriptures through their eyes. But as it became more and more apparent that we disagreed on this issue I could feel my insides screaming for me to tear down their arguments and prove that I was right. While the position I was arguing would be considered a more liberal one by theologians, the mindset that I was battling inside was decidedly conservative. My way is right. Your way is wrong. There is only one right answer and I know what it is. Etc.
You see true conservative thinking seems to be consistently more about how you answer questions than what your answers are. I have friends who are quite liberal (politically, morally, or theologically for example) and yet the way they think is markedly conservative. Most definitions of the word conservative focus on the lack of change, the preference for the old ways of thinking, and the tendency to find a tradition and stick to it. There are plenty of pro-abortion, pro-government, evolutionary, universalists out there who would fit right in with this kind of thinking.
Jesus wouldn’t. Jesus went against all the conservatism of his time. Think about it. The Pharisees really were aspiring to follow law. In fact, they were so worried about following it perfectly that for every law God gave they create numerous other ones to exactly specify what that law did and did not cover. So the Jews could rest in the comfort of their neatly arranged laws, instantly recognizing the transgressor and leaving them with only one real choice in life: “should I follow the law, or not”. Jesus didn’t take that approach. He condemned the Pharisees for it. He started talking to Samaritans. Eating with sinners. Healing tax collectors. Saving adulterous women. He recognized that the law said to “stone the adulterous”. And in fact by equating Himself with God (“before Abraham was I AM”) He essentially claimed authorship of that law. But He also recognized that sometimes grace is a better way. Sometimes repentance is enough and forgiveness can cause someone to change their life.
Jesus was a liberal. In the way he thought. He wasn’t just different from the norm because he was Jesus and He was talking to a crowd of lowly sinners. He was different because Jesus got outside Himself, saw life through the eyes of the masses, and adjusted His message and His approach accordingly.
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5 thoughts on “Jesus was a liberal

  1. Uh, could you possibly try to back up any of your claims from the Bible itself? I’d argue that the Bible takes pretty strong opposition to your claims about Christ.

    Jesus was as black and white as black and white gets.

    Jesus didn’t go against “conservativism” or “liberalism”. Those aren’t biblical categories and Jesus would have attacked both as equally false religion. The Pharisees didn’t want to follow the law of God at all; they hated it with every fiber of their being. The Pharisees made all the secondary “clarifying” laws to get around obeying the law of God (You may want to re-read Mark 7:1-13 where Jesus addresses this directly).

    Did Jesus toss aside the law of God?

    Not for one second.

    He perfectly kept the law of God and condemned the Pharisees as not being righteous enough. Take it from Jesus himself:

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matt 5:17-20.

    Unless your righteousness what? Exceeds? Exceeds whose righteousness? The Pharisees…

    Jesus wasn’t a liberal or a conservative. Jesus was a servant of God who lived to flawlessly obey his word. Jesus valued God’s glory more than anything else and that meant keeping God’s word.

  2. My favorite bit in the Bible was when Joshua was preparing to fight at Jericho. Josh came across The Angel of the Lord (Jesus pre-incarnation) and asked, “Are You for us or against us?” to which the Angel replied, “No.” He didn’t come to take sides, but to take over!

    God wanted a relationship with His creation; man turned it into religion – all about keeping the rules. He didn’t change His mind, for He does not change. Grace is possible only because Jesus already took the penalty of death for any who are humble enough to permit Him to do so. The ones who prefer to be executed for their sin are welcome to do so. God forces no one to be with Him.

    A down-and-outer knows they can’t measure up, and are thus more willing to accept His gift of grace. The Pharisees saw no need for Jesus because they figured they had it covered by virtue of their ability to be good. When they died, I wonder how that worked out for them as they brushed aside the One who was executed in their place, and instead offered their own righteousness as “good enough.”

    If you have a Strong’s Lexicon, you can look up “filthy rags,” (or use Blue Letter Bible online). What that refers to is so unsavory that I won’t state it here. That’s how God sees our attempts at righteousness. It’s not a pretty sight!

    Oh, um, Jesus kept the laws that His Father gave, just not the ones man made. Big difference there.

    My only question to myself on this topic is this: Jesus was called the Friend to sinners. Can I say the same about myself, or do I clutch my “holy” robes tightly to my body in an effort to keep myself unstained? Oh, Lord, I hope not!

    Thanks for giving me an exercise in sorting out what I believe about Jesus concerning this matter. I don’t want to blindly follow what others say, but “search the Scriptures to see if these things be so” (Acts 17:11).

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