Let’s begin with defining “Christian” (note the capital “C” here). This is anyone who professes true faith in Jesus as Christ and Savior – affiliated with a church or not. You then have “christians” who attend a church and may or may not be Christians. There are a lot of Christians outside the church sphere and a lot of people in churches who are not Christians.
I say this because Jesus gave us some simple commandments, and all the lists I’ve seen/searched/heard about can be simplified:
- Love: “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” – Matt 28:37-38. John 15:12, Mark 12:30-31
If you look at all the others: “beware covetousness” or “don’t brag” or “don’t swear” – it can all be brought back to showing love & compassion for others. Neighbor even gets defined in the parable of the Good Samaritan (which starts with someone asking “but Jesus, who is my neighbor?”)
The true irony is that Jesus wasn’t preaching something that new. Social justice was part of the Jewish law. Leviticus is littered with rules about leaving some of the food in the field for the poor, you should pay fair wages to your servants, not to slander the poor and malign the helpless… Seriously, just go read all of Leviticus 19, I can’t even pick out a favorite verse.
The prophets reiterate this over and over: Micah 6:8, Jeremiah 22:13-17, Isaiah 1 (and like 8 other places), Amos 5… need I go on?
Many would think the title of this blog post impossible. So much have christians (please note lower-case “c” here) have associated with a staunch conservative movement that the idea that any christian (note “c”) might be “liberal”…. too crazy to even contemplate!
But Christ was a liberal. Christ called his followers to be liberal. Period. Anyone who is spouting something else – I don’t know what Christ they are basing on, but it wasn’t the one in my Bible.
I do think this is because people have largely forgotten what’s in the dictionary for “liberal.” I remember when I read Pride & Prejudice for about the one-hundred-millionth time and I noticed it called Mr. Darcy “a liberal minded man.” Now, if you know the story, the word “liberal” as it’s used today strikes a discordant note in this description with the character of Mr. Darcy. That’s when I went to the dictionary and read the actual definition:
a : marked by generosity : openhanded <a liberal giver>
b : given or provided in a generous and openhanded way <a liberal meal>
Huh. Liberal is generous. Christ calls us to be generous. Christ calls us to be generous/liberal:
- Christ calls us to feed the hungry (Matthew 25:35, Luke 3:11, John 6:35, etc.): I support programs which bring food to the poor; community gardens, food stamps, WIC, SNAP, etc.
- Christ calls us to care for the poor (Mark 12:31/33, Luke 3:9, Luke 10:27-37, etc.): I support programs to help find homes and work for the poor; shelters, Habit for Humanity, housing (look at Utah), increased minimum wage, protections for labor, etc.
- Christ calls us to visit the prisoner (Matt 25:36,40, Mark 2:17, Luke 4:18-19, etc.): I support programs that prevent recidivism and reduce the need for jail time. I oppose making a profit off the suffering of prisoners (this one has some nuances I’d need another blog to fill out).
Christ doesn’t outright call us to educate people, but I think if he had lived in a time/place where broad education was even possible, he would support it. It’s hard to know because 2000 years ago the idea of everyone being educated was… unimaginable. Books being available at the rate we can create and consume… Let’s assume Jesus was all-knowing; would he have been able to explain to anyone around him the idea that everyone should be able to have their own multiple-copies of written anything??
How can anyone claim to follow Jesus Christ and deny food, shelter, jobs, and clothing to others? How does any Christian (note the big “C”) claim to be anything but liberal?