avoiding extremes

In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon says that a wise man avoids all extremes.  What he is really saying is that you need to avoid a lifestyle in which you try to please God and also try to please yourself through engaging in wickedness.  You can’t have it both ways.

This is solid advice, no one can live a double life and get away with it for long.  People who do this end up exposing themselves.  I’ve seen people who appear to be family centered while cheating on their wife.  Their own actions exposed exposed the lie.

I started thinking more about generally avoiding extremes as a form of wisdom.  There are very few things in life that are black and white.  Everything has different ways of looking at it.  I can think of some theological tenants that I wouldn’t budge on, but other that that, it might be wise to avoid all extremes.

We live in a culture that is increasingly polarizing: liberal vs conservative, right vs wrong, republican vs democrat.

We live in a culture that is rapidly loosing a middle ground.  Here is why that is scary.

If the church divides itself into camps: liberal, open and affirming, conservative and right wing, then those individuals tend to reach people with similar ideology.  I am pretty sure that the goal of the church is to reach everyone regardless of ideology.  We tend to reach people just like us because it is easier.  So if we are polarized, and we reach people like us, then the end result is more polarization.

Unity can become a pipe dream.  If we lose a middle ground politically we will only pass laws that favor ideological positions.  When we pass laws that only favor liberals or conservatives, they will not be in the best interest of all people. If nations become ideologically polarized then crisis negotiation and communication breaks down and war becomes inevitable.

I know Christians who are formed ideologically by Glen Beck, and I know Christians who are formed ideologically by John Stewart and Stephen Colbert.  I know that these two groups of people will not be able to last in a conversation for long.

This is a threat to the life of the church.  Avoiding extremes doesn’t mean that you can’t take a stand.  It simply means that striving for unity is a bigger priority than proving your political or ideological position.

I applaud churches that take Biblical stands.  I applaud churches that don’t allow politics to overtake their ability to reach the world.

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