Liberals and Conservatives in the Church

I’m writing today to offer insight into a deeply dividing issue among Christians today. I see two distinct sects (There are probably more than this, but for the sake of argument lets go ahead and reduce it to two) within the Church today; I’ll call them liberals and conservatives.

Now these classifications, like the argument they’re going to support, are more for the sake of simplifying terms than for accurately identifying specific people within the church. Let us now, if only for the next 400 words, break free from preconceived notions about what these words typically mean. Perhaps after further description you might even see yourself more in one camp than in the other.

In this case, the conservative is one who sees The World as a list of things Christians ought not do, and sees the Bible as a list of things Christians can do.

On the other hand, the liberal is one who sees The Bible as a list of things Christians can’t do, and sees The World as a list of things Christians should be able to do.

Where might you fall between these two definitions? Perhaps you see some of yourself in both, which is all right. I believe we all inherently lean more toward one than the other, so I might ask you to narrow down your own personality a bit further. Some people may see these categories and their definitions as comical, but in a way they are all too true; and each camp has something to learn from the other.

There comes to my mind a relevant passage in Colossians, in which Paul seems to address things of this nature:

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of your Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)

TO THE CONSERVATIVE: This is truly a great call to worship. Paul commands believers to glorify God, and give thanks in everything we do. This is a beautiful truth, but perhaps there is more than just one meaning to this text. I would call your attention specifically to the first line; look at what Paul says: do everything. Now, obviously there are conditions along with this, namely that all things should be done in an attitude of worship. However, there is no limitation placed on the things we can or cannot do. Paul doesn’t seem to care as much about the specifics of what we do, just the attitude with which those things are done. I believe there are many things a conservative might immediately condemn that can actually be used as a means for glorifying God.   I pray this can open our eyes to the reality that Jesus doesn’t call us to live with our heads in the sand, but invites us to live a testimony of His grace and mercy as we walk among a fallen world.

TO THE LIBERAL: This may seem uncomfortably religious to some, but this is one of the simpler commands in the Bible. We are called to do everything in the name of Jesus. Now, before we read this as a free pass to participate in the sinful pleasures of the world, let’s remember Paul’s stipulation. Is it possible to sin in Jesus’ name? We could try it, but that’s what we commonly refer to as hypocrisy; something God does not take lightly. I pray that the liberal might recognize that while all things are redeemed in Jesus, not all things are productive for becoming more like Him. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t inherently mean you can continue to do whatever you want. There are in fact things Jesus specifically tells us not to do (A master list of these things can be found in the Bible).

I hope that this could be helpful to you, as we navigate a world of lines that grow increasingly blurry.  We all as Christians are united in a single pursuit: to bring glory to the One who made and redeemed us; and this must ultimately be the mission by which we live our lives.

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