Is it safe to follow Jesus' example? Is it safe to feel like Jesus did about issues? Is it safe to believe Jesus' words? A resounding "Yes" to all three is the correct answer.
"Ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also, it is contained in the Scriptures, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious, and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded" (1Pe 2:5-6).
Jesus said, "If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, here shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor" (John 12:26). Those who believe on Jesus Christ and practice His teachings will not be confounded regardless how revolutionary their lives appear in their culture.
Jesus asked this question, "Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" (Mat 16:3). Some thought Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or some other prophet. The Pharisees called Jesus a gluttonous man, a winebibber, and a friend of publicans and sinners. Others mocked Jesus calling Him, physician and master. Rash people linked Him with Beelzebub, the chief of devils. Pilate had this superscription written, "This is the king of the Jews." His friends called Him Lord and Master, Jesus, Thou Son of David, and Good Master. God said of His Son, "This is my beloved Son, hear Him." Simon Peter verified the correct belief in Jesus by saying, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
The name given to Jesus, either by friend or foe, reflects to some extent the view they had of Jesus' life on earth. His enemies saw Him as an imposter, a liberal, and yes, linked to the powers of darkness. His friends saw Him as "the Christ, the Son of the living God." These two beliefs are as separate as light and darkness, as salt or no salt, as a candle under a bushel or a candle left to shine.
Jesus' direct teachings, the words He said Himself, and His indirect teachings, the inspired words of His disciples, are the final authority in all debates. By comparing Scripture with Scripture and using all Scripture on a given subject, we can find the truth on issues.
Jesus Christ's earthly life depicts Him as compassionate conservative. His compassion encompassed the blind, the lame, the lepers, and all manner of diseased. He loved the little children, His friends, and His enemies. He loved sinners with all sorts of sins, yet hated sin. Jesus was merciful, forgiving, kind, and gentle. He was friend to the poor and to the outcasts of society along with those cast out of the synagogues for righteousness sake. His compassion compelled Him to teach the multitudes of people that came to hear Him and He fed them with food when stranded far from home. Through His great desire for the souls of men, He warned the religious leaders of formal conservatism that slowly strangled love to do His Father's will. Jesus was also very concerned about not offending the little Christians who needed time to mature. Examples of Jesus compassion are so plentiful it is impossible to write them all. Let it suffice us to yet mention the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and all this provides for sinner and saint. We now have scratched a little of the surface of the compassionate aspect of Jesus Christ.
Let us now explore the conservative aspect of Jesus Christ. The definition of conservatism in Jesus' life can be simply stated, "He loved to do His Father's will." This is compassionate conservatism in it entirety. There is no conservatism greater on the face of the earth; it is without a shadow of a doubt true conservatism! It is possible to have a lesser level of conservatism such as traditional conservatism minus the power of Jesus Christ. It is a very real possibility to deceive a lot of people into believing we possess conservatism when in reality we are not Jesus' disciple. Compassionate conservatism is more than just separation in attire; it is a separation written with the Spirit of the living God in fleshly tables of the heart. (See 2 Corinthians 3:3.) There is a danger of being legalistic under traditional conservatism to the extent that the writing of the Spirit of God is not in the heart. Beware of this type of conservatism that allows fleshly lusts into the heart via the belief it is not against the church's standards. Many under the banner of conservatism commit deeds Jesus would condemn. Does this give us the license for despising conservatism? It depends on what kind is promoted. Is it a dead, formal conservatism or is it a spiritually alive type of conservatism based on the teachings of the New Testament? If the conservatism we believe in would receive condemnation like the Pharisees were given, then our conservatism is dead. Jesus' desire is for all to be part of the conservatism He lived and taught in such perfect detail.
What are the fundamental principles of compassionate conservatism as outlined in Jesus' life? The first is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment" (Mat 22:37-38). The second is, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Mat 22:39-40). The third is, "Jesus went away again the second time and prayed saying, ‘O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it, Thy will be done." Compassionate conservatism is based on the issues of love and of the will. Jesus loved to do His Father's will; His love was perfect and His will was in perfect subjection to God's will.
Compassionate conservatism is an issue of life or death. All the power in this world cannot force someone to love God or his fellow man. Neither can power and control fully subject the will of man without the liberty of free choice. Only the power from heaven issuing from Jesus Christ can change the heart to love and do the will of God. Choose Jesus or choose self.
Compassionate conservatism is regenerating; all other conservatism is degenerating.
Compassionate conservatism promotes applying Bible principle with their applications in all of Christian life. To be a part time Christian involves keeping the outside looking fine while under cover practicing things Jesus would hate. This degenerative Christian lives in the shadows of deceit. He lives his secret life apart from God's authority over him, all the while seeking and doing questionable things that promote his self-love. His will is neither in subjection to God or man. Such degenerative conservatism apart from repentance and forsaking self-love will end as a spiritual casualty. Compassionate conservatism lives freely and openly, unafraid of the inspection of God or man. It promotes a clean heart with God approved clothing along with a hunger and thirst after righteousness. The love and will of this person is to find and do all the commands, exhortations, and teachings, of the Bible. Love for God and will to please God motivates him to hold fast to all Scripture regardless of the pressure to apostatize. This holding and practicing Scripture is to such degree that if the standards of the church were removed, it would not change his lifestyle. In this whole process, he does not lose his love; his joy is boundless; his peace priceless; and his faith solid. Such a religion is not lifeless; it is regenerating.
Compassionate conservatism promotes unity. It only takes a brief backwards to see that a liberal versus conservative mentality promotes disunity and fosters division! In reality, liberal versus conservative mentality is unscriptural when defined in worldly terms. In broad terms, there are liberal and conservative Jews, liberal and conservative Muslims, and liberal and conservative Mennonites. In narrow terms, there are liberals and conservatives in each church group.
It is possible to leave a church group classified as a liberal and become classified as a conservative in the next church affiliation. It is another possibility to be not used in church functions because of being classified in one camp or the other. This pecking order in some churches sets the social and spiritual status of whether certain brethren are eligible for leadership roles in the church. This same pecking order promotes classifying whether ordained leaders are in the category of liberal versus conservative. The truth of all this classification is found on the clear, solid basis of Bible doctrine. The first base to check is to see if the classifications are true about churches or individuals is Philippians 1:9-11 "And this I pray that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment. That ye may approve things that are excellent that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God." The checklist is as follows: Is love for God and fellow men abounding? Is there sincerity? Is there a lack of offences? Is there a multitude of visible practices being demonstrated? If the answers are yes, then they are compassionate conservatives. Another base to check is 2 Peter 1:3-11. If church groups and individuals pass this high and lofty test of compassionate conservatism, an entrance shall be ministered unto them abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Will I choose divisive conservatism or compassionate conservatism?
Compassionate conservatism is safe because it is of Jesus Christ. "Also, I say unto you, whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of Man also confess before the angels of God; But he that denieth Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8-9).