Updated: Nov 7
Jesus was a liberal.
And I believe Jesus got it right.
I follow Jesus because when he privileged the marginalized and marginalized the privileged of his time, God’s Kingdom of heaven really did come closer than ever before to this world God so loved. And we as the Church Jesus planted here on earth were called to take it the rest of the way forward. The progressive Kingdom of God was launched by Hebrew people beginning with a nomadic Mesopotamian grandfather named Abraham and his slave descendants who were liberated with the help of a progressive social activist named Moses. It was he who introduced the then radical concept of proportional justice, albeit retributive but with a promise to liberate many who were then imprisoned for the sin of being poor. Because the Jubilee Moses called for was never realized, and the poor continued to be oppressed, the Kingdom progressed in the direction of God’s prophetic Hebrew messengers whose voices comforted the afflicted and afflicted the comfortable.
I follow Jesus because I believe he fulfilled the Kingdom of God in bringing about the ultimate comfort of those afflicted and the ultimate affliction of those who were then comfortable in their own narcissistic conservativism. It was as if the work of Abraham through the later prophets had each contributed an ingredient in God’s heavenly recipe, but Jesus followed that recipe and mixed the ingredients to then bake it for the final banquet. All we who followed Jesus had to then do was serve the banquet to the people of our world. To properly train us as a Church in service of his feast, Jesus modeled the role of a servant in God’s final Kingdom. He trained his followers to go and do as he had gone and done.
It was not Jesus who failed in the baking of God’s Kingdom ingredients. Nor did he fail in the training and preparation of his servant Church. Indeed, his Kingdom actually continued to progress and to liberate and to serve.
The Kingdom of God indeed thrived for nearly 3 centuries and liberated a lot of people throughout what was then the Roman Empire. Which created a crisis of privilege. Something Jesus himself understood as the crisis of temptation.
You see, Jesus himself was privileged. And he was tempted to conserve this privilege by assuming control over the kingdoms of this world and their splendor (Matthew 4:8-10). Yet, Jesus never lost sight of the fact that he came to serve rather than to be served (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45). He never stopped marginalizing the privileged in order to privilege the marginalized. Even when he, most of all, was privileged.
Jesus never stopped afflicting the comfortable in order to comfort the afflicted.
The Church, beginning with the Roman Emperor Constantine and the Christendom that followed into today’s American Christian nationalism, fell for the temptation to assume control over the kingdoms of this world and their splendor. We, and as a cleric-member in good standing I include myself, too often lost the plot. We often continued to follow Constantine, not Christ, by conserving our privilege lest we, too, become marginalized like Jesus Christ and his original apostolic Church.
Notice I say often.
The Church today is segmented with conservatives still bent upon privileging the privileged. For them the first will be first and the last will be last. Such conservatives seek to Christianize the world by means of biblical legalism. They mix going into the world and baptizing in all the right names with teaching of the wrong commandment from the wrong Jesus.
Jesus gave us only one commandment: love as he loved. Privilege others as we would want to be privileged if we were ourselves marginalized. Heal the sick as we would want to be healed if we were sick. Feed the hungry and clothe the naked and visit the imprisoned as we would like to be loved if we were hungry or naked or imprisoned. Raise the dead as we would want to be raised if we were dead. The first will be last and the last will be first. Afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.
That’s liberal. Radically liberal.
It’s the Jesus way.
And it’s why I am a liberal today.