Monday, December 10, 2012

Moderate

Moderate Christian, is this an oxymoron?  Let's put on our lab coats and dissect a little first. Unlike peeling open a frog in your ninth grade biology class this topic could get a bit messy because so much passion is involved, and I'll be the first to admit the passion is well-intentioned although sometimes misguided.  What do I mean by moderate Christianity? I suppose to define that I'll have to work inversely.  What I don't mean by moderate Christianity is extreme or radical faith, as the church has trending right now.  For a little background, i moved to Indianapolis and helped start a church and was steeped well into the ideology of ministry and church-planting.  Being extreme and radical was all I knew.  I had even gone as far once to lament to a friend at the time, "I used to think that Christians should be different because not everyone can be as on fire as me, but now I think you're not a Christian if you're not as on fire as me."  It is with great shame, guilt, and sadness I even admit that, however, all to show I was radical.  That statement in and of itself could lead me down an entire tirade alone, however I'll hold back for now.  Obviously I no longer feel the way I once felt, which is no indication upon my faith (which has been questioned by those I once frolicked in the radical mindset with), in fact, I'd argue that my faith is about as strong as ever at this point in life.  leaps and bounds away from where I started I now find myself as a 29 year old married man, living in Carmel, IN, wanting to do business as a living, and no longer obsessed with the radical.  In a religious culture that is high on being radical and extreme I'm desiring more than ever to move away from those ends of the spectrum.  It is in this place that I've found a vacuum concerning faith.  It is in this vacuum that I find myself and others being dismissed and dejected, all the while desiring the same thing as we used to, a way to practice our faith in a meaningful way.  Our values, as far as what the meaningful looks like, have changed, but the desire to love God and our neighbor hasn't.  In a world of extremes we yearn the middle, in a climate of liberal or conservative we seek moderate, black or white and we seek grey, rich or poor and we seek middle-class.  Moderate also is not synonymous with luke-warm as referenced in the bible (i'll touch on that shortly).  

My great idea for Bible College when I graduated was an extra class, required before graduation.  It'd be a class focused on transitioning well trained and educated men and women from a very spiritually focused atmosphere to the "normal" world.  We all begin bible college thinking we will get out and save the world for Jesus and do huge things for the kingdom, but the reality is most return to being accountants, repairmen, or other vocational duties outside of a structure religious organization.  Those who go on to be pastors, missionaries, or other ministry leaders are ready and do well, but what about those who need to take all that vast knowledge of Jesus, God, and the bible and balance a budget.  What about the guy who cleans toilets but has a degree from a theological seminary?  So my idea is a class focused on helping them see faith within non-ministry roles.  The first reaction most have when things don't go as planned with anything is doubt.  The danger with this concerning getting out of bible college is the doubt sets in about your faith, your sole.  That's a large issue to doubt, that's a heavy burden to carry.  When you're not praying, talking about Jesus specifically, feeding the "poor," or any other high recognizable religious activity, where does that faith reside?  

Many may call moderate faith, luke warm, in doing so reference a piece of scripture incorrectly.    They're specifically taking words out of Revelation (and for all you southerners, there is nor will there ever be an S at the end of Revelation, it's just one revelation, not plural, no s) 3:16, where it is said, "So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth(NIV)."  This ideology is not the same as moderate christianity, not the kind I am talking about.  This verse is talking to a church that is wishy washy back in the day and God is saying, basically, look you are either with me or against me, you can't be wishy washy.  That is much different from one desiring to have faith within the context of business and life outside of church or other outwardly religious institutions.  Now that that is out of the way we can move forward, progress into the practical faith that is more internal and casual than that of the radical extremes that flood popular religious thinking.  There is nothing wrong with those who are "radical" it is just illogical to think everyone must be so.  If that were so who would teach our kids, or pick up our trash, or clean the public bathroom you use at work?  I think that's the beauty of the body parts metaphor Paul uses in his letters.  We are all different parts which makes this whole thing, humanity, beautiful and functional.  So much effort and time is spent on radical that moderate seems to be lost in the shuffle.  What's that look like?  Have you had these thoughts?  Are you in this vacuum of a place?  I'd be interested to hear some feedback, looking forward to your thoughts.  

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