I'm a pretty conservative Christian. And I've lived most of my life in pretty conservative Christian circles. My Facebook addiction, however, has connected me again with some good old friends who are pretty liberal Christians. Well . . . "pretty" liberal? A couple I can safely call radically liberal. And they would wear the title with pride.
Hearing their point of view on things is always valuable for me, because sometimes they're right. (Of course, just because they're right, it doesn't necessarily follow that I'm wrong . . . ! ) There are a few issues that we have marked, profound disagreement on. But on probably the majority of spiritual questions that come up, we agree more than we disagree -- and our disagreement usually has more to do with a question of emphasis.
For example, "social justice" seems to be a hot-button topic in most of the liberal Christian world I've been exposed to. Helping the oppressed, standing in solidarity with victims of injustice. And I don't know anyone in my camp who would argue against that idea. But my liberal friends just give it more emphasis -- probably in reaction to the seeming apathy they've seen in other Christians. And rightfully so. While liberals certainly don't have the corner on compassion, they do seem more willing to show it whole-heartedly, with no "spiritual agenda" attached.
Interesting isn't it that the Church has a long history of lifting up the oppressed, the needy, the forgotten, the unwanted (think hospitals, orphanages, etc. etc.) -- while at the same time, it has a long history of intolerance and oppression toward those it disagrees with (think Crusades, witch hunts, etc. etc.). How can the Christian Church be such a schizophrenic organism? Because it is made up of fallen, imperfect Christians.
And because the task we are given -- to be the hands, feet, and face of God on earth -- is a formidable and complex one. We are to love perfectly, as God loves us all. We are called to be holy, as God is holy. And to do them both at the same time requires an indwelling God doing it through us. We simply aren't capable.
I admire liberal Christians I know for their commitment to the downtrodden. They see this as a command from Christ that is not meant just to be obeyed in our free time, as it is convenient for us, but as one which requires personal sacrifice and a willingness to enter into someone else's suffering. I have much to learn from them.
I wonder what they would have to learn from me.