I recently read the article "The Gospel of Selfishness in American Christianity" written by Amanda Marcotte. In it she states, "There are plenty of progressive Christians who genuinely try to live out Jesus' command to love your neighbor as yourself, described in the Bible as the root of Jesus' entire philosophy. That said, statistics bear out the sense that people who are more invested in being perceived as pious also embrace the most selfish policies." My problem does not lie with her claim that many who profess to be Christians are in actuality selfish human beings, who distort the Word of God and use it for their self-gratifying purposes. There are many people in this world who use the name of Jesus to advance their causes, agendas, and even personal vendettas.
My disagreement is with the term "progressive Christians." The label "progressive," need not be applied when it comes to Christians. The Bible's teachings regarding giving, loving, and being a follower of Jesus have never changed, so why is it that Christians who truly understand what is means to give, love, and follow in the steps of Jesus need to be characterized as progressive?
When one is a Christian it is implied that he or she believes in Jesus, and indentify with who He is. In the words of Christ, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me (Matt. 25:35-36).'"
Christians who use the Bible for their own personal gain, are Christians nominally. When you believe in something you are practical about those beliefs: this includes tipping the waiter who serves you, giving when you see a need, a lending a hand where there is hurt. Actions follow beliefs. Many times this involves putting your money where your mouth is. This I admit is not always easy.
That is what Jesus Christ is about; His "philosophy" never changes; The message of Jesus has not changed. The misapplication of the term progressive is disturbing. Christian beliefs are not new: they are well over 2,000 years-old.
As Marshall McLuhan, the Canadian communications theorist stated, "The medium is the message." For Christians that medium is Jesus, and upon close examination of the content of His life and teachings one would say that they were not only symbiotic but synonymous. The statement made by the lives of "Christians" who do not "do unto others" as they would have done unto them speaks volumes. They may not intentionally be living untruths, but the recent publicized events of the not tipping or quoting and purposefully misinterpreting the Bible to defend legislation demonstrates that there are lives marked with deception.
Then again, there are those who live out their beliefs simply, not advertising the fact that they gave to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, or simply helped an elderly neighbor with groceries, or wrote a note of encouragement to someone in pain. The light of Christians who live truth shines brightly. Those who abuse the Gospel and distort the truth may be publicly called out on the incongruence of their lives. For those of us who strive to walk in the steps of Christ - please don't call us progressive; call us simply "Christians."