Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Real Liberalism

Many times in my blogs and other writings I have referred to liberals or liberalism, and I feel that those terms need to be defined. When I have made comments like saying that militant recycling is a liberal idea, I have been criticized for trying to make something spiritual into a political debate (which is not true—liberal politicians beat me to it). But what I think most people do not realize is that being liberal is not necessarily a political label.

The word liberal just means to be “tolerant” and “not strict.” The opposite of being liberal is being conservative, which means “traditional” and “cautious.” Each person is either liberal, conservative, or somewhere in the middle, and politics is only one area in which this happens. In the realm of politics, when a person looks at the Constitution, he must decide for himself if he will interpret the document cautiously or with more tolerance. For example, when it comes to abortion, the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to life and makes no mention of being able to murder any unwanted baby. A person with a conservative view would be traditional in what the Constitution says and would be very cautious about ever giving anyone the right to kill a baby. On the other hand, someone with a liberal view would be more tolerant, and not being strict, he would allow for a new law that murders the unborn.

When it comes to science we must also decide if we will be conservative or liberal. With issues like evolution, embryonic stem cell research, and man-made global warming, the science shows us that evolution is laughable, embryonic stem cells won’t cure anything, and man is not responsible for destroying the planet. If someone is conservative and sticks to the evidence, he will come to accurate conclusions. A person would have to be quite liberal to look at the mountain of evidence against evolution and still think it could be true.

Being liberal is not always a bad thing. I even consider myself to be liberal in some areas. For instance, when it comes to dress code in the church, I take a more liberal approach than others. My grandparents’ generation believed that a man must always wear a suit and a lady must always wear a nice dress. A traditional conservative person would still hold to that belief today, but someone who is more tolerant has no problem relaxing the dress code (as long as it is still modest). Even though I usually wear a suit on Sunday morning, I do that because I like to, not because I believe there is something spiritual about it.

The Bible even says that God can be liberal. In James 1:5 we are told that if we lack wisdom then we only need to ask God for more. If we do, God will give us wisdom “liberally,” meaning that He is not strict with it. So in and of itself being liberal is not a bad thing.

But more often than not liberalism leads people away from what is right. When it comes to the Constitution, we are dealing with a completed document, so a cautious, traditional approach is usually best. The same is true with the Bible; God’s Word was completed 2,000 years ago, so we should also approach it with caution. A liberal tolerates new interpretations of its timeless passages, but a conservative would not. Let’s look at some of the teachings of Jesus.

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48).”

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44).”

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).”

“Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19).”

“If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).”

These are just a few of the commands of Jesus, and we haven’t even touched on the writings of Paul or the Ten Commandments. But when you look at these words from Jesus do you take a conservative or a liberal approach? Our lives would be much easier if we could interpret these teachings liberally, but our eternity will be better if we interpret them conservatively.

What gives people the right to think that they can take the words of Jesus and tolerate new interpretations to them? Just because “everyone else is doing it” doesn’t mean that the words of Jesus can be redefined. If we love Jesus, we need to keep His commandments, no matter how hard that may be. And when our culture tells us to keep our faith to ourselves, we must stick to the command to teach all nations. Just because most professing Christians only act like Christians on Sundays, we still have a command to be the light of the world. Getting even and hating enemies is what comes naturally to us, but we must stick to the truth of Jesus to only show love. And when everyone’s favorite cop out is “no one is perfect,” that doesn’t give us the right to reinterpret the command from Jesus to strive for perfection.

As you live your life, are you working hard to rightly interpret God’s Word the way that God intended it, or are you taking the easier route and tolerating any new interpretation that comes down the pike?

Following Jesus requires denying yourself and giving Him your life (another command from Jesus in Matthew 6:24).

So feel free to give your life to Him liberally.

No comments: