I used to think that moderation was the best guiding principle in life. It’s what most people have in mind when they say someone is a good person in this day and age. For moderation is the standard of goodness in our world. Because nobody wants to deal with extremists and fanatics which is what we think is the only alternative to moderation.
Problem with moderation is that it’s really dependent on the prevailing culture and in this age, it’s acceptable personal preferences. But what looks like moderation today will be ridiculed and might even be abhorred in years to come.
But who am I to define how people should live especially if they don’t subscribe to the authority of God’s Word as I do. In any case, if I am the ultimate authority over my life then whatever serves me and my interests as longs as it does not harm others works. Everybody wins?
Unfortunately, moderation is also common among Christian circles. A good Christian to many goes to church, have their kick for the week, is a good citizen and helpful member of a community. And many think that’s what defines a Christian. To them, the church gathering is nothing more but a weekend hobby to meet friends or keep the guy upstairs happy.
A call to die!
But that’s not what we see in the Bible if God’s Word is the authority behind our faith. No, it’s what those who subscribe to moderation want to reduce it to. Biblical Christianity well understood is radical. It demands total surrender to Jesus and his mission. Here’s how Jesus describes it:
34 Then he (Jesus) called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. Mark 8.
There’s no way you read this and think, well as long as I go to church, pay my contributions and do well at work, I’m a good Christian. You might be in the eyes of the world but not before Jesus and his word.
No, he calls us to a radical way of living: to die to the world and live instead for him who died that we may live. This is what informs Biblical Christianity as the apostle Paul says elsewhere:
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5.
As longs as we live, Christians are to live fully for Jesus and his mission, the salvation of the world. Moderation steals and waters down the power of this conviction for a comfortable and acceptable worldly way of life. It robs from us the joy of totally dying to self and fully living for King Jesus every day.
But how do we move from moderation to living fully for Jesus?
Knowing Jesus is all it takes
Such a radical call is only possible when we fully and continually know and trust the Lord Jesus. It’s when we know him and believe that what he has done and promised is worth it all that we can live fully for him now.
But it’s not just a strong motivation as much as it qualifies as one. It’s more than that, knowing him leads us to a new life deeply informed by his Word and fully set for his mission. We become a new creation in him to do his good work.
10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2.
The answer to moderation as well as complacent Christian living is in God’s Word: in knowing Jesus. Which is a very good place to start for people at every level including unbelievers.
For God is accomplishing his plan using his Word in his people. And his word is all we need to start, continue and make it in the end. It’s what we need for our evangelism, discipleship and in training others.
It’s for this reason that a chat with a Christian friend about the Bible is so helpful and this is why church and Bible fellowship exist. The author of the Hebrews had this in mind:
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10.
It makes the job of a Bible teacher and every Christian to continually point those under their care to the shepherd of their souls through his Word: to Jesus. And understanding this frees us from anxiety and guilt in Christian life and ministry as we are equipped with what works, God’s Word.
The way forward
As you are drawn to Jesus and his word then you will be totally sold on Jesus and his mission as the apostle Paul was. You will not need a set of parameters to exercise or limit your involvement to the mission of the church. Rather you will use every opportunity, gifts, and resources to serve King Jesus at work, abroad and at home. This was Paul’s aim and should be every Christian greatest ambition in life:
20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.