[... continued from part 1]
All I'm trying to say is that whether we wear the label of Christian conservative or Christian liberal, what matters most is that we are Christian. The Bible reminds us that there is no male or female, Jew or gentile, bond or free, but in Christ we are all the same, sinners saved by grace.
What I've learned is that many of my liberal and conservative friends draw the line around issues of gay rights and abortion. But people in the church I attend disagree on these issues, and yet somehow are still able to worship God together on Sunday morning. To me that's evidence of the Holy Spirit -- that in spite of our disagreements, we all agree that God is worthy of our worship and deserving of our praise. Each of us is evidence that the gospel still works; if it didn't, we wouldn't gather together on Sunday mornings.
The bottom line is that as I travel the country visiting churches, talking about issues of justice, and organizing congregations, I don't hear these terms very often. I'm not sure where these labels come from or what relevance they have in advancing the work of the church. But I do know that most of the time I hear them being used, it's by the media, politicians, and religious organizations that seek to separate Christians into clearly defined groups to meet an institutional agenda around a given issue. Shouldn't we be seeking unity in the body of Christ, rather than entrenching ourselves in positions that distance us from each other? It's hard enough trying to do the work of ministry, so why should we expend so much energy defending ourselves against other Christians?
The harsh reality is that there are people outside the church waiting on us to show up. And when we don't show, many of them are giving up. My prayer is that we would be like Paul and say, "I press toward the mark of the high calling for which God has called me Heavenward through Christ Jesus."