In today’s religious vernacular calling a church, liberal, would not be a compliment. However, he meant it in a less common usage, meaning that that church was generous.

The Church is Liberal! A look at how the church must be liberal in their service. | Brother Jim O'Connor, Oak Grove Church of Christ

In a report concerning the church in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky in 1846, J.T. Johnson said,

“This church is Liberal”.

He spoke of them in the same way Paul spoke of the Macedonians (2 Cor.8:1-2) and, more specifically of the Philippians (Phil.4:18) and Thessalonians (1 Thess.1:8). They were generous with what the possessed, both materially and spiritually.

“Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.” – 2 Corinthians 8:1-2

While we certainly don’t wish to be considered liberal in one way (forsaking the authority of the scriptures), we do wish to be considered liberal in the other (generous in sharing what we have).

We can be no other way and be godly (Luke 6:38, Acts 20:35, 2 Cor.9:7). We detest the spirit of liberalism, but we seek to possess the spirit of liberality. This was the spirit of our Lord (Phil.2:5-8, 2 Cor. 8:9), and it must be ours if we are to conform to his image (Rom. 8:29).

“For it to be said that this church is liberal we must maintain a generous, loving attitude toward those in need. We must take advantage of opportunities to do good (Gal.6:10), and we must seek opportunities to do good.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” – James 1:27

Churches of Christ have the reputation of doing good in most-areas. May God be praised for this. It is our hope that such will continue to characterize the work of the Lord’s church, and it will, if we don’t grow weary in well doing, (Galatians 6:9).

- Jim O'Connor
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