Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jesus - A Pro-Life Liberal


Jesus is the Creator of all life, so he is always pro-life. So Christ and His teachings would never approve of abortion in any case except where the mother’s life was in jeopardy, which is extremely rare in the west. But that does not mean He hates those who are pro-choice, rather He wishes to redeem and change them.

But with that settled Jesus taught many things that were decidedly liberal in today’s political parlance. And many of His teachings were anti-capitalist, and dare I say, socialist. I know many believers who would slit their doctrinal wrists upon hearing those words. But God’s way are not our ways, thank God. Man has always had difficulty allowing God to do things His way, and many times man has concocted a way that seems right to him and assumed, and even proclaimed, that it was God’s way.

And yet our Savior broke all the human molds. He confronted the religious leadership, He acted outside established religious norms, he taught things that confounded the wise, he astounded the common man, and Jesus walked in a spiritual aura that was decidedly unconventional. He even used everyday examples which everyone understood to communicate deep spiritual truths. His earthly ministry was filled with controversy as well as love and compassion. Taken as a whole, the ministry and teachings of Jesus are unique and resist being placed within well worn human cultures. He established a culture all His own which transcended all other cultures, but when practiced can have a profound affect on any earthly culture.

The problem arises when we attempt to live and acquiesce to our own earthly culture and also attempt to observe a divine culture for a few hours on Sunday mornings. But another unique aspect of the divine culture as taught and lived by Christ is that it naturally resists being part of a cultural amalgam. In essence, when the teachings of Jesus are forced to be practiced and observed within the dictates of an earthly culture, then the essence and power of His teachings quickly lose their distinctiveness and potency. And eventually, they become so diluted and so manipulated by the earthly culture that they morph into little more than religious and moral systems which have been nicely assimilated by the overall culture and to a great extent only have a residual resemblance of Christ’s teachings. They become but for the most part caricatures and human creations.

For example, in American religious circles man has made issues like abortion and homosexuality the cornerstones of Christ’s teachings when in fact they are almost nonexistent in the Christ narratives. It does not mean that Jesus is ambivalent about such things, but what it does clearly indicate is that the teachings and life of Christ have a divine power that is not revealed through moral and political issues. In fact, many of His teachings are seen as irritants to the established western culture if indeed they are practiced literally and without being shaped by the fallen culture. And earthly freedom and capitalism are also two issues that have found their way into the church and have been incorporated into the normal Christian theology.

But when we honestly and completely examine the teachings of Jesus Christ we will be surprised, shocked, and in many cases sorely vexed at just how diametrically opposed His teachings are to what we have come to accept and believe. While the evangelical community champions and defends capitalism, the teachings of Christ say something different. While the evangelical community champions democracy, the teachings of Christ say something different. While the evangelical community champions earthly wars, the teachings of Christ say something different. While the evangelical community comes against certain sins, the teachings of Christ say something different.

And here we have the divine crossroad. The two perspectives, Christ’s and ours, are incompatible. They were never meant to be symbiotic. In fact, the teachings of Christ are overwhelmingly counter to the practices and principles of the fallen culture. But in a self serving attempt to have our spiritual cake and eat it as well, we have taken the fallen culture, sprinkled in a few moral tenants, added a thin layer of the name Jesus, and embraced it as Christian, or in other words, the teachings of Jesus. But in fact what the western church practices is far from being a revelation of Christ’s teachings and we have created a religious system that seeks to change parts of the culture but fully embraces and practices most other parts. And very cleverly we come against a couple of sins in order to soothe our religious and moral consciences, but in no way do they remotely resemble the life and teachings of Jesus. And yes, to put the entire spectacle in some very painful words, we no longer practice Christianity.

Oh we are against homosexuality and abortion and Islam, but that does not represent the Savior or His gospel. We “boldly” embrace conservative politics, but that is counter productive to the gospel itself. And the collection of believers living within any specific community must have hundreds of local fellowships and meeting places separate from one another. The most minute doctrinal variance requires the formation of a separate local assembly complete with staff salaries, building upkeep, and many times mortgage debt. But the evangelicals with join hands with conservative unbelievers or Mormons in the political fray, but they cannot even worship together in one room. That, my friends, is Christian sectarianism.

But the teachings of Jesus have as their foundation the gospel. Jesus, God in the flesh, died for the sins of the world and resurrected from the dead. Therein is the core of our faith. However what Christ taught as it pertains to how we should live is fully invested in pointing people to and persuading people of the gospel. In other words what we do and say must have remarkable qualities that can be used of the Spirit to draw sinners to Christ. Anything other than that is of the flesh and becomes an obstacle to the spreading of the gospel. And it isn’t just feeding the poor or doing humanitarian works, as important as that may be. But how we live and what we treasure and what is important to us and how our lives mirror those of the unbeliever also affect how people receive the goods news.

And at the very heart of the practical teachings of Jesus are people. Yes, His message was populist and many of His teachings are overtly counter to democracy, freedom of speech, and an overall capitalist mentality. What kind of capitalism gives away both coats to people who ask? What kind of free speech asks people to guard their lips? What kind of nationalism exhorts us to love our enemies? What kind of Judeo-Christian ethic forgives an adulterous woman? What kind of conservatism speaks so little about homosexuality? What kind of industriousness is content with food and clothing? What kind of political activism rejoices when it is persecuted? And if we really desire to reveal the core that exposes us as frauds, what kind of culture dies for everything and everyone that is against it?

And in light of all these questions as well as many, may more, how can we truthfully say we are following Jesus and His teachings? Well, to be honest, the church hardly professes such a thing anymore. We are more apt to say we stand for truth or we stand for Biblical morality or we stand for a return to the Judeo-Christian ethic, but we rarely say we are following and practicing the teachings of Jesus. Abortion and traditional marriage have become the convenient litmus test for being a committed Christian, while the teachings of Jesus are quaint stories that can be used in interesting sermons which are designed as little more than ecclesiastical Hallmark cards. And when we need some real red meat, the preacher can throw out abortion, gay rights, socialism, or the founding fathers. That kind of atmosphere is sure to spark a frenzy! And if he says "This is the greates nation on earth!", well that brings down the house, in spite of any teaching on humility, whatever that is.

The Master teaches us not to bring a gift to the altar if we are angry, but how many evangelicals walk right into the Sunday morning service with hatred in their hearts for Obama or Chris Matthews or the liberal du jour? The sermon on the mount reserves much space concerning adultery and divorce, and yet how many people who are guilty of those sins applaud with effervescence when the preacher touts traditional marriage? I guess we must stand for traditional divorce. We are taught to bless our enemies and yet how many call liberals names and pejoratives? We are taught not to worry and yet preachers by the thousands peddle in fear. We are commanded not to worry about money and yet professing believers complain about gas prices and taxes and consumer goods incessantly.

We are commanded not to store up money for ourselves but how many billions are right now in the savings accounts of believers? We are taught to examine the mote in our own eye but how may believers are in the speck removing business? And we are taught that those who hear and do what Jesus says are built upon the rock, and yet we have supplanted politics, moral issues, and Americanism for the teachings of Jesus. And all those teachings about giving to the poor and turning the other cheek and not saving up money for yourself, they all sound so very…well…libarl and socialist. In fact they are not really socialist, they are divine. And they are not really liberal, they are divine.

You see, we have taken Christianity, sifted out a few Biblical words and principles, and formed an alliance with the fallen culture. And our alliance is so distilled and so compromised and so earthly, that even many unbelievers gladly join in our cause. That in and of itself should be painfully telling. I used the word “liberal” in my post title to draw attention to how we have made our own labels that either represent God or Satan, and how the church now marches to earthly agendas and not to the teachings of Jesus. But if you still must embrace certain labels, then many of the teachings of Jesus must be labeled as “liberal” in western parlance. Does that repulse you?

If it does, than you must be a “conservative” who is fully invested in that moniker but who is blind to the surpassing power of the teaching revelations of Jesus. He and His teachings cannot be, and must not be, confined to cultural labels and mores, and if our lives are not remarkable and spiritually incandescent within a culture of darkness, then we are not following Jesus. We are following ourselves.


Anonymous said...

This watered-down christian thought is about 'us' versus 'them'. They seem to want to be viewed by the world as the righteous team and the warriors of justice, like an army who do offensive strikes. They think by aggressively doing offensive strikes towards 'them', that Jesus is high-fiving them.

They don't realize that it's 'us' versus 'Jesus'. All of us are in the same camp, together, with our various sin and our daily strivings to commit our lives to our Lord, and Jesus is the one that is the righteous One. Some in the 'them' camp, of which we all belong, are redeemed by the blood of Jesus, but must live as tares and wheat until the day of judgment. But they refuse to do that.

The wheat's responsibility is to show Christ's example and occupy til He comes, so the tares can reach out to Jesus in time of need. It's still 'us' versus 'Him', as long as we live in this world. The two-camp theory that these christians have created, makes them become little gods versus the evil ones. It leaves a terrible taste and a terrible witness; sinful men acting as though they've already arrived, yet disgustingly accusing others, as though they have been appointed God's judges.

If men want to use politics to protect their interests, then call it what it is. But these watered-down christians call it divinely-inspired mission and attack, attack, attack against 'liberals' or whatever their target is.

What is most disingenuous is how these self-appointed judges mock and personally attack those who have been elected to do a job. Then, when their interests and investments are threatened (Hurricane Sandy), they go to these same officials with their hands out, without an iota of shame. They want their temporal fair share.

Hopefully, the 'us' camp don't fool everyone, and the 'them' camp will find Christ regardless. I used to hear a pastor say, even God used a donkey. I'm not calling any people donkeys, but when the church refuses to obey, God will find another venue.

Anonymous said...


I am continually amazed at how my attitude moves to the "liberal" side as He changes me to be more like Him. I drank the kool-aid of the evangelical mindset for so many years and wondered why I had no power in my life as a Christian.

So many of the topics you have posted lately are what caused me to realize that I was being called out of the institutional church. It has been a wonderful but lonely road as I continue to mature in Christ and become more like Him.

The persecution from the "brethren" is harsher (and borders brutal)when I am given the opportunity to knock down some of the golden calves of the evangelicals, than I ever received from non-believers while sharing the Gospel.

But in all of it, my love for my neighbor continues to grow. My ability to be in this world but not of it increases daily. And best of all, my self-righteousness continues to decrease as He shows me how to extend grace and mercy to those He places in my path.

In a nutshell, I now know why it is called good news.

Keep up the excellent work.

Rick Frueh said...

Thank you. We have been brainwashed into the liberal vs. conservative earthly war, and most of the evangelical community has bought into it. But a re-examination of the teachings of Jesus apart from human labels will open the eyes of any sincere follower of Jesus.