In our society, we are discouraged from being extremists – spiritually, politically, morally. It is uncomfortable at times to take things to extremes. We want to be moderate in our application of philosophies and ideologies. To what extent do we take our commitment to God? Are we moderates or extremists with our views of our Savior and His word? When we examine Christ’s own teachings, it’s evident He leaves no room for middle ground when it comes to accepting or rejecting Him.
The Extent of Jesus’ Deity
In Christ’s time as well as our own, some view Christ as a philosopher, a Son of God as we are sons of God, a spiritual leader, or as God in flesh. Luke 4:16 records Jesus return to Nazareth during His ministry. As he reads a Messianic prophecy from Isaiah, He clearly indicates that this prophecy points to Him. He Claims to be the Messiah. In John 8, Jesus draws a line between belief in Him and condemnation, and, in verse 58, Jesus equates Himself with Jehovah. He calls Himself I AM. John 10:30 has Jesus saying He and God are one and the same.
Jesus, in His ministry, takes an extreme position. He claims to be the way to Heaven. He claims to be deity. The Jews of the New Testament know what He means. They take up stones to kill Him. Jesus never backs down from His claims. He is either a fraud or He is what He claims. We cannot be moderate in our acceptance of Jesus’ teachings. With such claims, we are forced to either completely accept or completely reject Him.
The Extent of Accepting the Bible
Do we view the Bible as folklore? Do we view parts of the Bible as inspired while other parts are secular? Do we want to pick and choose from the Bible, only applying those parts with which we agree? In II John verse 9, John writes there is no flexibility with God’s word. He claims it is impossible to reach God while modifying His word. The gospel of John 12:48 records Jesus claiming that rejecting Him will result in judgment by the word delivered by God through Him.
In Acts 2:4, we see the apostles filled with the Holy Spirit, and they begin to speak as inspired by God. Jesus promises this event in John 14:25, saying they will be inspired to recall all that He has taught them. Paul acknowledges this inspiration in Galatians 1:6-12. The writers of the New Testament do not view their work moderately. They claim it is of God, and Peter claims the words of the Old Testament are of God. We cannot claim to be following Christ while only accepting a portion of His message.
The Extent of Our Service
There is no such thing as a part-time Christian. I cannot treat my identity casually. It is always a part of me, whether I am at church or not. In Matthew 12:30, Jesus challenges His audience, claiming those who are not working for Him are working against Him. Chapter 6:24 calls upon us to choose who we will serve, this world or God. In Matthew 19:16, Jesus tells a young man to keep the commandments and to give up his possessions to achieve treasure in Heaven. We cannot serve both God and worldly interests.
We cannot be devoted to God once a week and then devoted to self the rest of the week. To what extent does Jesus go in His service and ministry? To what extent do the apostles go in their service? We must be willing to go to the same extent. Jesus was not moderate in His sacrifices for us. The apostles were not moderate in their efforts to spread His word. We have challenges we have to overcome if we are going to serve Christ as He expects. It takes focus and determination, but we can follow our Savior to the extent He expects.
lesson by Tim Smelser