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Liberal and Conservative Labels

With words we bless and curse, agree and disagree, expose truth, or hide it.

With words we also label, name-call, and characterize in ways that can make it difficult to separate facts from perceived guilt by association.

(Caught a picture of this fellow on Jerusalem’s Ben Yehuda street. Was in costume for the Jewish feast of Purim. Figured he didn’t “look” too conservative :-).

Think, for instance, about the way we use the words liberal or conservative. For many of us they are terms that describe our view of the world. But what do they mean?

What was Jesus? Conservative, or liberal? Which label would be hung on him by the religious leaders of his day?

In reality, I’m guessing he was the most conservative man who ever lived, and also the most liberal.

So who hated him? Seems to me that the Scripture-memorizing, culture-resisting, God-defending, protectors of Mosaic law who slandered him, and called for his death, didn’t think of Jesus as being too conservative.

He was far too friendly with sinners, far too soft in applying the law the way they thought it ought to be applied, and far too disrespectful of those who were honored for their moral and religious idealism.

So where does that leave us? How can we be sure that we are longing to be as conservative and as liberal as our Teacher? And in the process how can we honor the Scripture that warns, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!” (Isa 5:20-21).


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55 Responses to “Liberal and Conservative Labels”

  1. poohpity says:

    My son said, “I have to write a paper tonight for sociology about who I am without identifying myself with any culture, religion or group”. I told him that would be hard for me because my identity is as a child of the living God. That is not a culture, religion or group. It seems that conservative and liberal would be total opposites.

    Jesus maintained a life of living the Law (conservative ism)yet showed that it was carried further than what was intended in it’s original form so He displayed it by showing it was not for us to use in an authoritarian way (liberal).

  • Laurielee says:

    I recently finished my Social Problems class in school, and I learned that people are not usually completely conservative or completely liberal. One can be morally conservative, while being financially liberal, for instance. I think the book of Acts teaches us a lot about a balance in this area. Many far right financial conservatives don’t like to read the part about the early church having communal finances. Many far left liberals don’t like to read about familial and personal purity issues and not accepting it in their midst. Leaning too far right can make us hard toward suffering. Leaning too far left can make us too soft morally. I am SO thankful Jesus led by example so we are able to discern what He might do in a given situation! (Though none of us can apply His teaching perfectly.) I consider myself a conservative liberal…and try VERY hard not to get caught up in politics which are run by man, therefore fallible.