Liberal vs. Conservative

Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, “Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.”  Matthew 12:25

Are you a conservative or a liberal?

What does that really mean, anyway?

We hear the terms in the news, at social gatherings, even in our churches.  But, do we really understand these labels? 

In an effort to educate myself and understand the boxing match a bit better, I decided to do a little bit of research.

First, I looked the terms up in the dictionary.  Merriam-Webster defines conservative as, "tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions, or institutions : traditional; marked by moderation or caution."  Liberal was defined as, "broad-minded; especially: not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or traditional forms; marked by generosity."

Next, I asked an acquaintance if she was liberal or conservative, not knowing the answer in advance.  She told me that she was very definitely a conservative, so I asked her why she felt so.  She said her beliefs were conservative.  So, I asked what they were.  She went on to explain that she was a Republican and that they were the conservative party, but that was all she had to say.  I asked several more people, and received similar answers--from those who considered themselves both conservative and liberal.

While my research wasn't really much, I did discover that both sides seemed to hide behind their labels in an effort to avoid explaining what they really believe and why.  I think sometimes people hide behind labels to avoid associating with people who are different in experience or thought processes, too. Our churches do this sometimes, don’t they?

We are often afraid of different when we don’t need to be.

In examining the definitions, I find that I'm a good mix of both liberal and conservative, and perhaps most of us are.  We just don't take the time to listen to one another--patiently.

As the great theologian, Winnie-the-Pooh once said, “If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

As followers of Christ, may we be marked by caution and generosity.  May we hold firm our faith, but not confine it in a tiny box of tradition.  And, may we remove the small piece of fluff from our ears to listen patiently with love for one another--no matter how different we may be.


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