In light of the big event of this season--about 37 or so days off now--I've been sleepless tonight thinking about the words liberal and conservative. I read an article earlier that claimed that 60% of Americans call themselves conservative. I am not one of them. But it made me really begin to think about those words. I'm not talking merely talking about the political definitions of these words, though I did look them up just now to make sure I understand them. I was surprised by what I discovered. One of the hallmarks of liberalism (which makes sense, when I think about it) is that it places the highest importance on the freedom of the individual, whereas conservatism, while valuing person freedom, tends to believe that belonging to some social order, community, etc is more important than the liberty of the individual. And you know, I totally believe this. That is, I am more importantly part of the Kingdom of God, and subject to His rule, than I am free to choose whatever I want. To tell the truth, I'm not altogether sure what freedom actually is. That is, from His point of view, am I free? No longer a slave to the law, aren't I now a slave to righteousness? That's what Paul said in Romans, anyway. So I suppose I'm far more conservative than I imagine. Except that I'm pretty sure that most conservatives actually do put a pretty high stock in personal freedom. It is, after all, the word we most often bandy about when we talk about this country and democracy (though not always accurately, as my son would tell me). I mean, they certainly want the right of free speech, freedom of religion, and the freedom to carry arms. And I fall on the side of real conservatives when it comes to some of these, the abortion issue, especially. But I'm not what you'd call part of the religious right. Don't even get it, frankly.
Mostly, I line up with the liberals. When I say this, I realize that I am a minority among evangelicals. And many might rear back in horror to hear me say such a thing, because, for some reason, these words are tainted words. But I am not proud to be an American first, worried about keeping us safe against all enemies. I am a pacifist through and through. And I frankly think it's possible that we've come to the end of our Supremacy in the world, and that's all as it should be. Super powers through history--the Greeks, the Romans, the Spanish, the British--all tend to last about 250 years, and we're just about at the end of that. This is the way of things of humans. Only the reign of God lasts. So, to be liberal--in the Kingdom--might just mean something else. And maybe, just maybe what I should concentrate on is the words themselves, not the political definitions. And I think Christ uses them alot...er, liberally:
We are told to give liberally, love liberally, forgive liberally. To go the extra mile in serving and caring for each other. Liberally. I want to be liberal with my hope, my faith, my witness for Christ. I want to be as liberal as Christ was--giving even my very life, if He asks. And I'm not sure what He tells us to do conservatively. Sin maybe? No, Paul even said, "Sin boldly that grace may abound." Oh yeah, I remember--it's about judging. Be conservative in our judging, in our condemnation, in our pointing fingers at others. Hmm.
In the end, I thank God that these labels are only human deep. They don't really mean anything in the Kingdom. Thank God I can sit down with folks with whom I disagree politically and still come together under the banner of God. Thank God that I am not measured in His eyes by who I vote for in this or any election. The water of political labels is so blasted murky, I'll just wade out of it. And make it my aim (as I've said a time or two before) to live worthy of His name, pleasing Him in every respect.