The Moderate Believer

I’m sure there are some out there who think, “How is this blog about a ‘moderate revolution’ yet he mentions very little about moderation?” It’s a valid thought. The truth is that recently I’ve been blogging a lot about my time in Argentina. It seems to be what’s going on in my life and therefore… that’s what I write about. I hope that in my poems or regular writings that my centrist tendencies come through. I began thinking about recording my thoughts about moderation and how the world exists and indeed thrives from conflicting opposites. But, this is also a recognition that to have competition from opposing forces, radicals, fundamentalists, and “wing-nuts” are a necessary evil. I can’t list all my thoughts, largely because if I have one good idea out of 400, I don’t want anyone taking credit for it. I only want to keep my one out of 400.

I first began this quest for moderation at church. I’m a Baptist, don’t know if you knew that… a moderate Baptist. I know there are centrist-minded people at Southern Baptist Churches; it just so happens, however, that they aren’t in positions of power at the SBC conventions. So I go to a different church. Like I said, I was sitting in church and a guest pastor (a Lutheran pastor) read from the book of Mark, chapter 9. Verse 40 caught me when Christ says, “… for whoever is not against us is for us.” Just taking that verse, without any context, life is apparently good. Any person that has stayed away from church but hasn’t really done bad-talking about Jesus is going to be alright. I thought about this verse while I remembered that in Matthew Chapter 12, Jesus says, “if you are not with me you are against me.” There are two different contexts for these verses, presumable spoken by the same man (Jesus), that say two very different things.

One says that people in the middle are going to be okay, “as long as you don’t hate Jesus, everything’s going to be okay.” The other says, “You’re on Jesus’ side or you are hosed.” Obviously these are paraphrased but there exists an issue that needs to be dealt with. Both of these scriptures are addressed in the context of a driving out demons. In Matthew, Jesus is driving out demons, trying to make a point to the Pharisees. In Mark, some other guy is driving out demons in Jesus name, and John the Apostle is having a conniption.

Now does Jesus change his mind? He does seem to give two different statements. Does this just mean that the bible is full of contradictions and this is just one example of a confusing savior? One question is if Jesus himself is crazy or fickle? Or does part of the charge of being God, manifested in flesh, come with fact that we as humans are inherently faced with a day-to-day duality. A duality that is not always a question of good and evil but that humankind is needs to recognize that there is not one blanket answer for everything. The fact that man and woman were created in God’s image carries with it so many responsibilities, not only to us, but to God as well. There is the issue of us trying to come up with a blanket “yes” or blanket “no” for every situation; blanket answers just does work, they don’t explain everything. The scriptures, if nothing else, try to teach us to think contextually.

I’ve heard it said that God doesn’t want us to be moderate. Revelation 3:16 says we should be hot or cold, if we’re lukewarm God will “spit us out.” Moderate isn’t being lukewarm. Moderate is having the good sense to know when you should be cold or hot.

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