Christians have become so reasonable and moderate in the past century or so. We’ve succumbed to the lie that it is the broad and even road paved with good intentions that leads to heaven. We’ve exchanged God’s economy for a pathetic socialism, content to aim for the lowest common denominator.
The world calls us too moderation in the pursuit of holiness, justice, and absolute truths, but extremism in the pursuit of our own rights and of acceptance of relativism.
- Forget mercy in exchange for repentance, let’s instead deny sin exists, and that repentance is necessary.
- Forget that knowing the truth will set you free, let’s instead be free to create our own truth.
- Forget being holy, as God is holy, that’s unreasonable, and leads to extremism.
- Forget perfection, God never called you to perfection, just be content with doing your best.
- Turn the other cheek isn’t about meekness, it’s about peaceful resistance; stand up for yourself.
- Forget Jesus, the path to salvation is good will, defined as “I meant well.”
- It’s admirable to hate the haters, to label those who label others, to stereotype those who stereotype others, to reject those who reject others. And to define the second party to suit our whim.
What does scripture say?
- Be holy, for I am holy.
- You are the temple of God.
- No one comes to the Father except through Christ
- Be perfect, as your heavenly father is perfect.
- Turn the other cheek when assaulted and insulted.
- Go the extra mile when unfairly burdened.
- Offer no resistance to evil against yourself.
- Do good to those who are spiteful towards you.
- Love your enemies.
God calls us to extremism (put out your eye… cut off your hand) in pursuit of holiness, justice, and he who is absolute truth. He even calls us to extremism in rejecting our own rights. I struggle to accept this, or to apply it in the “real” world, but he’s very, very clear.
I catch myself on perhaps a daily basis making some accommodation or excuse. I moderate my opinions, lest they offend. I accept milquetoast platitudes from the hierarchy as if they are serious theological and philosophical proposals. I allow linguistic gymnastics to excuse me from confronting the plain truth of the gospel.
As Yeats (“Second Coming”) puts it..
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
I’m part of the problem.
But I don’t want to be.
Lord, help me to aim higher, never forgetting to put charity first, but not using charity as an excuse for cowardice.
- Adulting is hard – Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
- Sufficient evil – Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)