Sekai no Hikari: Light of the World

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden…In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."

The Moderation Dilemma

on September 19, 2013

The other day, someone I know said that, “everything is good in moderation,” and not to spend all your time, money, or talents on one thing. This got me thinking about that expression. It gets thrown around a lot, and I would venture to say that it has some truth to it. But, like all sayings, it must be thought about before we take it the wrong way.

As Christians, what do we not want? Evil is the first answer that comes to mind for me. So is evil good in moderation? Is sin good in moderation? The answer is obviously no, and this is what’s wrong with beliefs like Taoism, that stress “balance” between good and evil. Despite this, I would venture to say that a Taoist would be as quick to condemn an awful event like the Holocaust, or September 11th, as anyone. But that’s not the point. There is another side to moderation that is not as obvious, and not as insidious, but it is a lot bigger of a pitfall for Christians than evil in moderation.

Now here’s a harder question: Is time with God good in moderation? Is sharing the gospel good in moderation? Well, yeah, but it can always improve. This is something many Christians struggle with. They come to Christ, but then think, “I’m not going to go all out. That would be downright weird. Everything’s good in moderation, right?” Well, the answer when it comes to Christianity, and religion in general, is a big, fat NO.

Moderation has a different name when applied to religion. It’s called nominalism. The nominal Jews: celebrate Hanukkah, but not the Sabbath or Passover, and they don’t go to synagogue. The nominal Buddhists: never meditate or try to better themselves, but vaguely believe in Buddhist philosophy. The nominal Muslims: are of Arabic heritage, and believe in one God. That’s about it. The nominal Hindus: are of Indian heritage, have statues in their houses, have Hindu relatives. The nominal Christians: go to church on Christmas and Easter, believe in God, heaven, and hell.

The sad thing is that Christianity is one of the most common religions to have nominal adherents. I believe the reason for this is actually due to its uniqueness in the realm of religion. It is the only religion where justice and grace were fulfilled at the same time by one selfless sacrifice. Other religions are either the “Go do whatever you want” type, or the “DO EVERYTHING RIGHT OR ELSE” type. So with nominal Christians, they’re kind of expected not to do bad things, (justice) but they don’t feel a ton of pressure to do good things, either. (grace) To revise my earlier statement, this is what makes it easier for Christians to be and to stay nominals. The real cause of Christian nominalism is that they don’t understand the gospel. Because when you really comprehend the sheer depth of the gospel, you’re either in or out. There is no longer any in between.

Now about the struggle I mentioned earlier that lots of Christians have: I actually would not consider that nominalism. Many Christians, such as Francis Chan (the author of Crazy Love), would. But the reason I don’t is because we are under grace. Sharing the gospel is not a requirement for salvation. If these people are at least making an effort in some respect, I would consider them not nominal, but simply having a bit of trouble with courage, or faith, or any number of things. (A caveat: I am not saying nominal Christians are unsaved. I do not know one way or the other.)

To those Christians: I understand that sharing the gospel is hard. It’s hard in every way. Knowing when God wants you to do x, y, or z is hard, mustering the courage to do x, y, or z is hard, knowing what to say and when to say it is hard, dealing with attacks from the enemy is hard, the list goes on. I also understand that not all Christians are gifted spiritually with evangelism or faith or apostleship, which all help very well with sharing the gospel. But, I know almost all of you care what God has to say. He says to share the gospel. Now, the point of this IS NOT to guilt anyone into sharing the faith. Trying to force a spiritual conversation wouldn’t help anyway. The best motivation for sharing the gospel is the gospel itself. If you aren’t motivated by the gospel, and you wish you were, just ask God! God calls you His child. He will help you in the best way possible. Also, sharing the gospel, with both unbelievers and believers, (the gospel will never get old!) is a way that God intended for you to get closer to Him. It helps me get closer to God more than anything else does.

Now to the skeptics who are always careful about doing too much of anything: Moderation is always wise. It even mentions a similar concept in Proverbs, where the speaker asks God to give him only his daily bread, for too much or too little would lead him away from God. But, it is things like this that I believe Paul spoke of when he wrote that the foolish would shame the wise. Now, this is not a call away from wisdom, but true wisdom is always following God. And God calls us to be excessive with our faith. There should be a label applied to Christianity: Use liberally.

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