I was driving to the clinic the other day and came upon a parked car with a bumper sticker that read “Jesus was a liberal.” I found two things amazing about this;one that a car in Erath County had such a sticker, and two, that the sticker or the automobile had not been defaced. More importantly, I think the owner of this automobile may be on to something.
Webster’s dictionary defines a Liberal as a person who is open-minded, not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional or established forms or ways. Jesus taught that a person doesn’t need to conform to strict and orthodox views of God, religion, and life. For example, he tried to give a Samaritan woman advice when Jews were not to have any relations with Samaritans at all. Additionally, Luke 10:25 – 37, answers a question concerning which neighbors to love by relating the story of the Good Samaritan.
He rejected greed, violence, the amassing of wealth without social balance, and the personal judging of others. For example in Luke 12:15, Jesus stated, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed, a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions”. In Matthew 6:24, he was quoted as saying, “You cannot serve both God and money.”
Jesus promoted a set of principles and a way of life based on love, compassion, and a strong belief in the importance in giving and of generosity to those in need. In Luke 6:20, he stated, “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” In Matthew 19:24, he stated, “again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” In Matthew 19:21, he stated, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” He helped everyone he could and turned no one away.
He was very much against religious orthodoxy and disliked the Pharisees as being hypocritical. In Matthew 12:11, Jesus was quoted as saying, “If any of you has a son or a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you take hold of it and life it out?” In Mark 2:27, he said, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Also in the Gospel of Matthew he took the Pharisees to task for their public displays of faith. “They have their reward. But thou, when thou pray, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to the father which is in secret.”
Jesus had a sense of community. In Matthew 22:39 he said, “Love you neighbor as yourself” and in Matthew 7:12, “So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you”. So maybe the bumper sticker is correct; Jesus was and still is a liberal.
Bob Newby is a psychology professor at Tarleton State University who lives in Morgan Mill. He is a member of the E-T's community columnists and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.