Friday, April 26, 2013

Everything in Moderation... Really?

I’m beginning to really dislike the axiom, “everything in moderation.” I’ve been on enough diets to know that such “wisdom” can seem to portion out hope and alleviate guilt. Hope that I don’t have to give up things I love; hope that a little bit – even a little bit of something very bad - won’t hurt; hope that my appetites can be tamed and shrunk, managed so that I can be moderate.

Not too big and not too small. Neither hot nor cold. Lukewarm.

This kind of wisdom seems to have settled into my bones. It seems so right… so incredibly rational and sensible. Moderation has such a common sense appeal... But everything? What does that leave out? It’s not a trick question. Everything means EVERYTHING – nothing left out.

So here’s where I take issue. I don’t want to be a little bit generous or a little bit compassionate or a little bit patient or a little bit loving or a little bit forgiving. If I’m honest – and by that I don’t mean moderately honest, but full on, nothing-to-hide or fear, honest – I think that moderation may be a clever trap; in fact, a colossal deception. It numbs and placates us and leaves us bland and passionless.

OK. I suppose that there are SOME circumstances in which moderation is a better option than excess. But at ALL times and in ALL circumstances?

Perhaps moderation is for those who lack courage. There – I’ve said it! Moderation - from this perspective - is an inevitable path to mediocrity and security. It’s settling for not bad, when good, better and best are all possible if we dare to defy the voices within and without which counsel moderation.

I’ve lamented before – and I’ll lament it again! – that I am NOT a risk taker. Moderation comes naturally to me. But I’ve always admired people who live immoderately. So as I think about living as a disciple of Christ – as someone who (to the best of my knowledge and ability) WANTS to be “all in”, I wonder what that really means. What does it look like? And here’s what I’m thinking: maybe there are different ways and means of being immoderate. What if the body of Christ is healthiest and most compelling when we combine our immoderate talents and passions and energies.

Maybe we don’t all have to be reckless and carefree in our physical beings; maybe there’s a need for immoderation in our collective thinking and even in our theology…? I may not be drawn to feats of extreme physical challenge and risk, but I AM drawn to - and committed to - thinking that refuses to conform to the well worn paths. And maybe - as we consider the coming of God's Kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven - immoderate thoughts and theology may actually be helpful in seeing past the obstacles that seem to be blocking the path.

Poverty, pain, persecution... injustices of all kinds can seem to be immovable. They are resistant to so many of our efforts, but I wonder if that could be because our thinking is wrong, or at least a little bit off the mark. And although it may be foolish and unduly rash to engage in a wholesale re-thinking of our basic presuppositions and then careful examination of the layers that have been added, maybe that is just what is needed for the church to fully engage in today's world.

Despite any appearances to the contrary, the fields ARE white unto harvest. God IS faithful and just - he will neither leave us nor forsake us. He is - even as we go about our daily lives - working all things together for our good and for the good of the Kingdom. If we really believe these things, there is no need to fear. God is not moderately good or moderately faithful. When it comes to our faith and our living out of that faith, let's not be moderate either!

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