05 Nov Moderate Christianity?
Recently, I hear more and more people using the word moderate in their conversation. Maybe this is because we are enduring one of the most turbulent and divisive elections in our history. Passions run deep on both sides of the political aisle. To define oneself as moderate allows for a bit of wiggle room and can produce a bit of civility in those who might hold opposing views.
Moderate, when used as an adjective, carries the idea of average– in amount, quality, and intensity. As a verb it means “to make or become less intense or rigorous,” and as a noun it refers to “one who holds moderate views in politics or other areas of thought.” So in the explosive and emotionally charged world we live in, maybe choosing to be moderate is a good decision. However, I do not believe this is true for Christians when it come to their faith.
Christianity has never been viewed as a moderate set of beliefs by those outside of its influence. The history of Christianity is colored with the blood of those who held firm to the faith yet withstood some of the most brutal persecutions known to man. However, more and more churches today are struggling with moderate Christianity.
Moderate Christianity is much like many of the beliefs peddled in the market place and on social media. It is grounded in the comfort of self and promotes average as the social norm. Above all, it strives to be less intense and rigorous in sharing and living out its beliefs. Its mantra is “don’t rock the boat.”
C.S. Lewis once made this observation, “Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” Moderate Christianity was not an option for Lewis, and it is clear from his writings this belief ran through the very marrow of his bones. Jesus had a more colorful view of moderate Christianity when speaking to the church of Laodicea. In Revelation 3:15-16 (ESV) we read, “I know your works: you are neither cold or hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
There is nothing average about the Christian faith. History has proven time and time again that it does not lack intensity and it is pursued rigorously because it is of infinite importance. Moderation has its place in many areas of life but not in the faith we profess. Christians are not called to be average in quality, intensity, or in their vigor. They are called to share Christ with passion. It is for this reason Paul could write “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” Colossians 2:29 (ESV)