I won’t even try to shed full light on how strange I am when it comes to the topic of moderation or extremism. Sometimes, I am an extremist with regard to certain things: I can adopt a very “all or nothing” kind of mentality and approach. Still, at other times, I can be very balanced and moderate about certain things. It all comes down to what I am passionate about and…well, what I’m not.
Typically, I think I err more on the side of truly being an extremist. That’s not a popular thing to say, is it? But if I am really being true to the way that I believe God has made me, I am that way. Most of the time, if I am not going full force with something, it is either because it’s not something I am good at, OR…..
I am afraid.
Yes: It’s that stupid and ugly fear thing again. And that’s the truth of the matter.
Here’s the thing though: I think moderation is over-rated in today’s world. I also think in many cases, it’s a lie. Welike to say being moderate is good, but often that is just being used as some kind of excuse for something that is anything but moderate.
OK…let’s digress a moment and get something straight. I’m not talking about the obvious stuff here, like a little bit of chocolate – I’ll give you that one. Clearly, it’s better to be moderate about that kind of thing (although if you have some kind of secret in regard to that you can share with me, I’d love to hear your story of triumph and victory over chocolate and all it’s yummy goodness!)
I think it’s the idea of moderation – being in the gray area – being numb, indifferent, indecisive – just “existing” – that is so alluring (and deceitful and twisted up) in today’s culture and world that is getting me tonight. In many ways, I see that the idea of “moderation” and how we pretend that we covet it is actually what we are taking to an extreme in and of itself. People are getting downright pushy about it if you ask me!
The truth is, people just want to do whatever they can to allow any and everything to be seen as acceptable (moderate) or justify the fact that they have actually just “grown cold.” And if we want to be really generous here, I guess we could say that most of us in some ways have at least become somewhat tepid. The endeavor to be moderate in all things is part of what we use to cover our sin and justify it.
Jesus isn’t tepid. He isn’t a model for how to be lukewarm, either. If anything, Jesus was and is radical. But He warns us that sin leads to this kind of thing. Blase
What’s the opposite of love again? Oh yah….it’s not hate.
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold. Matthew 24:12
Instead of going on and on tonight about this topic – about the state of the world (myself included in that for sure) and how we got here, I am going to make one single point about moderation and how I see it in my own life.
When it comes to sharing joy and the love of Jesus, I have decided that moderation is going to be thrown out the window!
I have talked about this before – what a struggle it is for so many of us who have been given this drive to share joy and love with others in the name of Jesus – yes, in many a blog post, many conversations, and through many different encounters, situations, and circumstances.
Yet I still find myself consistently being tempted, in more than one way, to hold it back – sometimes just a little – sometimes A LOT.
It’s starting to make me angry. And that is a good thing, because it’s righteous anger.
For me, that spells M-O-T-I-V-A-T-I-O-N.
And for me, that spells A-C-T-I-O-N
And that spells G-O-O-D.
God-kind of good.
I find myself being pressured to acclimate – assimilate – mold to the current culture, dynamic, situation, group, vibe, accepted norm; the list goes on and on ad nauseum.
This happens in the most unexpected places. In fact, some of the places I find it to be the most dramatic are the very places in which one might think that sharing Jesus joy and love would be so very welcomed!
But it’s not. Either it is just not viewed as “acceptable”, or it simply freaks people out. Even the good stuff can be uncomfortable, huh?
I think that in many cases, friends, people just don’t know what to do with it when we shine the love and joy of Jesus outward without reservation. Even among fellow Christians (especially there, actually), it can be seen as “less than reserved”, inappropriate, or just plain weird.
Fact is, whether people have cold or lukewarm hearts (even if they don’t know it yet) OR if they are simply being lulled to sleep, our joy that emanates from Jesus bursting forth from inside of us and outward to others is going to be a shock.
Kinda like a blast of cold water in the face when you are in a deep and beautiful, calm slumber. It’s not the most pleasant feeling at first. But eventually, you can end up refreshed after the initial shock does wear off.
Jesus is screaming inside of me “time to wake up!!!!!”
Guess what? I’m not going to get up and face the shock alone, yo. Ha Ha!
I’m not a morning person. I like my sleep too. My flesh is funny that way. So, the rest of the world is going to have to come with me (at least, whoever I can possibly pull along with me for company).
I AM going to obey my Lord and Savior and since He’s saying to wake up, I’m a’gonna do it!
If you are in the same situation, let’s pray for one another. People don’t tend to really like to be awakened that way, even when they are starving for water – they’d just rather be left alone to sleep and stay comfy. In fact, we might get a slap or punch, or kick right in the chops while we’re at this.
Today I realized that I thought that I’d decided months ago to stop holding in the joy and love of Jesus. But I really hadn’t done so in full. I’m sure I will still struggle at times, but the Lord has made it clear that what I’m doing so far has not been the best that I can do or allow Him to do through me. It’s sad, but true.
I had decided to do that -to let that joy and love thing cut loose. But…the trouble is, that I only did so in the places where I felt the risk wasn’t too scary.
Transition time is over.
We’ll see if I can stand up to the test, because the time is here – NOW.
In a way, I feel free. I have decided I will not try to resist in certain places – to hold that joy and love in anywhere, anymore on purpose or to accomodate someone else or something else. Sure, I may have hard days where I am struggling, but I am going to be on my knees in prayer every single day asking for His power to overcome it. If I am holding back, it will be for some other reason – (I am sick, I have another struggle I am working through, that kind of thing). But I have made up my mind that if I find myself holding back because I am fearful of others and what they might think or how they might react, that I am going to get on my knees and pray for the power and the discernment that it’s time to cut loose.
THAT stuff can no longer be a reason to water down the joy and love of Jesus.
What might this mean for those of us who no longer are willing to hold back?
We might be looked upon as not having a gentle and quiet enough spirit.
People at church, work, in the community may feel we need to contain ourselves…be more professional, sensitive to the culture, or PC.
We may actually irritate people. OH NO!
People may not trust us or our intentions and motivations.
I say to that – Passhhhhh!
Here is what I plan to ask myself daily:
Am I feeling like I am holding back?
If yes…is it because I am afraid of stepping on someone’s toes? Then STOP holding back.
If it’s yes because I just don’t feel well, try to be loving, and go to prayer.
And then…..hang on to your hat!
Yes, moderation is sometimes over-rated – and to me, that’s the wrong thing to get extreme about.
Let’s be extreme and over the top when it comes to Jesus Christ and what He has laid on each of our hearts. He has work for us to do, friends. I feel something really building – not just within myself either. I feel stuff happening out there – gaining momentum. Do you?
He is saying to PRESS HARD.
He is no longer whispering.
He is making it clear that the time is NOW.
There’s nothing moderate about them apples.
Whatever He is calling you to go after with HIS kind of power and HIS kind of extreme, do it! Whether it is to be the gentle comforter, the balanced intellectual, or the joy giver, just do it.
It’s time to go after it with all that we have. It’s time to unleash the King’s power and voice and reach throughout this world.
Do whatever it takes to wake up – bathe in Him even when it feels shocking.
Take as many with you along for the ride as possible.
Because He says so.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Romans 12:11