Jesus: The King of Liberals

During this time of remembrance and reflection, we primarily think of the birth of Jesus and the details surrounding this momentous event. However, let us consider another side of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the cultural upheaval His ministry caused in the settlements of the promised land. He was to be called the King of Kings, but He was also the King of liberation, the original righteous rebel, going against the rigid, exclusive, arrogant, corrupt leadership at the time.
Prior to the new covenant in Christ, we were slaves to the law, but Jesus arrived on the scene and turned the establishment on its ear. He broke every rule of man, which they had created to elevate their own status and call attention to their effort and achievements, not to glorify God, His Mercy and Grace. Jesus was the original liberal, rebelling against the system men had created in the name of their God, instead showing us an example of life lived in freedom and liberty from the struggle of keeping a law that cannot be kept. Jesus taught a simpler path to salvation, one based on faith and love. He was a threat to those in power at the time because they were financially benefitting from their status as religious leaders and this depended upon a population indebted to them for their teachings, their discipline and their intercession.
There is such a thing as being a rebel for a good cause. God sent His son to dwell among us in human form, fully God, yet fully human, that we could see how to live our lives according to His perfect plan of love. He shows us by example how to step outside the box, going against the cultural norms, loving the unlovable. Jesus went out of His way to model this by touching lepers and prostitutes, fellowshipping with sinners and Samaritans, placing value on servanthood over law. He healed on the Sabbath day, He ate without ritual washing, He spoke and quoted scripture with authority, taking credit for things declared by God. His followers were from the lowest of status, fishermen, women and a tax collector. All of these things caused Him to be hated by the Pharisees and they targeted Him for death.
Though we usually understand the Bible instructs us to obey those in authority over us, we also must recognize that God calls us to be set apart from the world and to place His authority above that of any man. When Jesus said to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, He was answering a challenge from those leaders who were trying to trick Him into saying something they could arrest Him for. There was a spiritual undertone to this answer, however, and those who were already doubting the authority of Caesar’s government recognized the insinuation. He wanted us all to know that there is nothing in the world that doesn’t belong to God. It has all been created by Him and for Him. There is nothing that belongs to Caesar except the loyalty of those who idolized him.
Prior to 1993, if someone were to ask me who I was, I would of have very proudly told you I am a descendant of Abraham through Ishmael, a Muslim, an Iraqi, a resident of the Arabic peninsula, etc. I turned my back in the norms of my culture, my family and my old identity when Jesus liberated me from the hold Islam and its false teachings had on my life. When He freed me by His knowledge of the Truth of His Word and discernment of false religion, my identity became inexorably linked to Him. Growing up, our identity is shaped by so many different factors, our family, our culture, our financial status, and beliefs, but until we are liberated by our relationship with Christ and commit our lives to Jesus, we don’t really understand the scope of our true identity. From this point on, our every thought, reaction and decision is made as a child of the King. Every affiliation to our identity is filtered through the lens of our liberty and freedom in Christ. We may lose many worldly ties, but the flame of Jesus’ liberation in my life becomes an irreplaceable driving force.
A few years ago, my family turned me in and I was required to appear in Sharia Court to be tried for turning my back in Islam. I was very anxious about my fate and I worried about what I could say to defend myself without having to deny my faith in Jesus, but I was liberated from this fear by the Word of Jesus in Matthew 10:17-20, “But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues.You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me.When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
I felt a deep peace in my spirit when I knew I need not worry, that Jesus would speak through me, and sure enough, I gave the most amazing speech of my life that day. I stood firm in my faith with boldness, sharing the Gospel in that courtroom, knowing I was sentencing myself to death. There was freedom in this knowledge though because I was reminded that the end of this physical life meant a joyful reunion with my savior and a glorious eternity. As most of you know, God instead used my testimony and one of the judges in that Sharia Court to liberate me once again from imminent death. Here I am now in the United States of America, sharing the story God created for me, fearlessly sharing the Gospel without fear of persecution.
People have long been fighting for freedom and liberation, especially in the short history of the United States of America, but so many have no idea what it means to be blessed with true liberty and freedom. When I was asked to speak at a campus event recently, I told them my topic would be Jesus: King of Liberals and the organizers were very concerned people would misunderstand the focus of my speech because of the contemporary meaning of the word liberal. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Liberate is to set at liberty: free; specifically to free(as a country) from domination by a foreign power. Liberation is: the act or process of freeing someone or something from another’s control: the act of liberating someone or something. Another dictionary defined liberation as: the act of setting someone free from imprisonment, slavery, or oppression; release; freedom from limits on thought or behavior. These are all important aspects of our liberty and freedom in America, but also the foundation of the new covenant in Christ.
When we, as Americans, place our hand over our hearts to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, remember the words “liberty and justice for all...”. We should take back the definition of liberal, and remember that liberation and freedom are provided by Jesus Christ. We are called to rebel against the religious tradition of man, against cultural standards, and instead stand for what is righteous and true. We are called to love in all circumstances, to share His plan of salvation and to Glorify God in all we do. The liberty He has given us from the constant feelings of inadequacy, the fear of never being good enough, the continuous struggle with sin, has also freed us from slavery to the law. We have freedom to find our identity in Him, to become one of His rare, precious jewels, liberated from the sting of death. Instead we will be raised to new life in Him.