Left vs. Right – Is Jesus a Moderate?
In politics we have the Right and we have the Left. We have the Conservatives and we have the Liberals. And so often people think that what we really need is a Moderate – someone who can find the right balance and bridge the gap between Right and Left. I have often heard that said, and so, no doubt, have you. Is Jesus a Moderate?
When we look at the Gospel accounts we find Jesus sparring with the Pharisees – the Conservatives - and we find him sparring with the Sadducees – the Liberals. And he defeats them both. But that does not make him a Moderate. Jesus is no Moderate. He has not given us a middle way between them. On the contrary … he has outflanked them both.
He shows us the God who is more conservative than the Conservatives. He says, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20). He is more conservative than the Conservatives.
But he also shows us the God who is more liberal than the Liberals. Because he takes sinners – sinners – people who are not in themselves more righteous than the scribes and Pharisees – and he raises them up to the unimaginable glory of being heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) – through the gospel. He gives sinners eternal life, and makes sinners sons of God and sons of the resurrection (Luke 20:36). And he does it by taking their sins and their judgment upon himself. Jesus makes known the God who is infinitely more liberal than the Liberals.
Yes, yes, yes, I know this is gross oversimplification all in service of a rhetorical point. That point is not that Christians should not have biblically-informed and deeply-held convictions on political issues. Rather, the point is that the primary lens through which we who are Christians need to look at the world is not political Right or Left, but gospel. The cross of Jesus is the place where justice and mercy meet (Romans 3:21-26). If we have truly come to know this just and merciful God, the whole focus of our lives – expressed in both our words and our actions – must be on making him more widely known.