What the heck is a liberal?
Disclaimer first: I don’t dig too deeply into politics. For those of you who do, please forgive my errors in assumptions, classifications, definitions, and generalizations.
I associate liberalism with the practice of looking at that which is deemed socially or biblically acceptable or unacceptable,
and constantly re-shaping it to meet one’s own desires, habits, and beliefs.
If you can’t live with the rules, change the rules. There is no absolute measure of right and wrong. Just be yourself.
Adapt the truths instead of adapting yourself to truths.
Maybe a perfect example of liberal thinking happened recently in the world of college football.
Last year’s Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel was seemingly in big trouble for signing autographs for money.
This is a practice clearly against NCAA rules for its student athletes.
Manziel is a kid from a wealthy family who apparently wanted something immediately that
exceeded what his budget would allow,so he knowingly broke the rules to make some quick bucks.
The alarming part wasn’t that the NCAA penalty was a whopping half-game suspension.
The disturbing part was the outcry of national media folks defending Manziel because the “rules weren’t fair”.
He “should” be able to sell autographs for money. Let’s change the system.
Forget the fact that he thought he was bigger than the system and the rules that were in place.
His university is making big bucks from his affiliation with their football program.
Sooooo, I mean, who can blame him? Right? Wrong, blame falls squarely on him.
But it’s not fair…….
Let’s change it. Redefine what’s acceptable so people can do what they feel is fair (my favorite word).
And so I silently stew and fuss. Finally try to make it a teaching point for my teenage son about consequences
and the lengths that people go to to avoid facing them……
and how easy it is to enlist supporters in this quest.
Then. Then, I wonder if I am in fact a liberal in my own church?
Maybe I’ve seen a tradition or perhaps a widely accepted view and set out to ignore it or change it?
No, I’m not talking about selling the church piano on ebay and sneaking in a bad reincarnation of Stryper to lead worship.
I am talking about people’s views on what is acceptable dress in churches.
I have silently and systematically rebelled against the notion that people have to dress in a certain manner when they enter God’s house for worship.
More specifically, it sort of itches my rear when someone expresses with words, attitutde, or looks a displeasure or disapproval with another’s choice of attire.
Modesty? Of course. Nobody wants to see some guy in a wife-beater just because he wants to show off his new tattoos and big guns.
Ladies, if your skirt is shorter than my underwear,
I would have to question why you would wear that anywhere in public, not just church.
And perhaps even the sloppiest of dressers like myself should make some concessions.
I won’t wear the same shoes to church that I mow the yard in, and I have an Iron Maiden
“Trooper” shirt with blood splatters that I save for special occasions of a different type (date night with my wife-it’s her favorite shirt you know).
I think it’s awesome when people feel the need to put on their “Sunday finest” as a matter of reverence toward God.
But is it sometimes done for show or to meet the expectations of men? Is it an exclusionary tradition that keeps new people away from church?
Obviously, people grasp for the closest and most convenient reasons why they can’t or won’t at least visit your church.
Most common phrase I hear is, “I don’t have anything to wear”.
Save your money and I’ll check back with you when you have enough to buy nice clothes?
I live with the philosophy that every church needs a good number of people that can honestly say,
“you can dress like me. I wear what I’m wearing now, blue jeans and t-shirt.”
It’s not a lack of reverence, just a sign of outreach.
Let’s eliminate one reason you have for not taking the first step toward knowing Jesus as your savior.
What if I get up to preach (gasp!) in sandals and a wrinkly t-shirt? Would you listen?
Would nicer, more traditional “preacher attire” make me a more credible
speaker of God’s word? Gee, maybe I gave all my money to the poor and an old Stryper shirt is all I have left?
You just don’t know.
Do I honestly own nice clothes? No. Doesn’t matter if I can’t afford them or simply choose not to spend for them.
Do I try to poke holes in man-made traditions? Yes.
Am I drifting into liberal waters? Perhaps, but I’m not crossing the line of worship evolving into a casual or cool event either.
Am I attempting to change God’s commands or truths? Absolutely not.
Bottom line. Why do you do what you do? Because your parents did it this way? Because the Bible says?
Know the difference.
For a person to find find a relationship with God, somebody has to have a relationship with THAT person.
Churches need to find the ability and willingness to attract and welcome all types of people.
Besides, Stryper didn’t reach too many with their Christian 80’s hair metal.
Somebody still has to be able to reach out to the Iron Maiden and Slayer fans, right?
Don’t judge me. Just go along with me. Sometimes even sit with me.
Oh dear, I’m not a liberal, but I know now why I have the only one-man pew in my entire church.