When Moderation Ceases to be a Virtue

Several years ago while visiting Savannah, Georgia, with my family, we stumbled upon Colonial Park Cemetery, a resting place for some of the early citizens and patriots of Georgia. One of those famous men laid to rest within its borders was Archibald Bulloch, great-great-grandfather of Theodore Roosevelt. A fiery patriot who became President of the First and Second Provincial Congress in Georgia and delegate to the Constitutional Congress, Bulloch was praised by John Adams for his “abilities and fortitude.” A historical marker bearing Bulloch’s words from his speech to Georgia’s Provincial Congress in June of 1776 not only caught my eye, but bored its contents into my spirit in an unsettling manner. In the years since first reading his words, they’ve risen to the surface of my conscience time and again, tugging me toward truth with their conviction:

This is no time to talk of moderation; in the present instance it ceases to be a virtue.

It’s no exaggeration to say that words such as moderation and tolerance have become “virtues” in this rat race of political correctness. As Christians, we are continually being told to accept things that grate against the very roots of both our nation’s establishment and our consciences — all in the name of tolerance. Moderation is to be used in approaching anything of a “questionable” political or moral nature. Truth has shifted from what is sure and certain, to being termed as a trait relative to one’s own interpretation. It has not merely slipped from its governing position in how we are to weigh what is either acceptable or not; it has jumped over the edge of reason hellbent on crashing and burning at the bottom of this steep slope of dulling consciences.

And honestly, I’m just plain tired of it. I’m tired of being told I must be tolerant of things that war against morality and against the very commands of God. Yet, I must admit to speaking this truth with tongue in cheek, because as much as I despise being told by others what is allowed to be considered “good and right” or “evil and wrong,” more often than not, I am the very one enforcing this spirit of moderation upon my own belief system far more than others do.

I am the one who has allowed apathy to sneak into my faith life. I’m the one who has tempered my beliefs, seldom implementing this dynamic power available to me through the gifting of His Holy Spirit burning within. And while I say I’m tired of this state of cradle-rocking whimsy, am I willing to be awakened enough to actually do something about it? Am I willing to not just break this mind-numbing complacency, but to take a stand against it, knowing it will cost me my much-coveted spiritual nap time?

Ouch! Stepping on my own toes can be an uncomfortable waltz, indeed.

Thankfully, no matter how much my tendency toward spiritual slumber, God continues to call me to awaken. Though I’m content to lie down among green pastures, He shakes my shoulders, rousing me to the fact that I’m not resting in a secure place but rather trying to nap upon a battlefield. This struggle between truth and relativism is a raging war between light and darkness, and I have been placed here as a warrior, not as a spectator. It’s time to don the battle gear and “man up.”

Now, I am not saying to pick up a sword and begin swinging haphazardly at anything or anyone that comes into your peripheral. One must be wise in wielding such powerful weapons as we’ve been granted, and sadly, we Christians have become rather good at slicing arbitrarily into others with great finesse. But our battle is not against flesh and blood. It is not a war between you and your detached spouse, or your defiant teenager, or your difficult in-laws, or your obnoxious co-workers. In fact, chances are those adjectives are not a fair assessment of the persons or situation anyway. That’s merely a smokescreen thrown down by the real enemy — the one who has been warring against the true King for ages. We’ve simply allowed him to fool us into believing his lies so as to be distracted into skirmishes of no account.

We’ve allowed moderation to tempt us to believe that things just must be the way they are with no hope for change. We’ve allowed truth’s firmness to slip from our grip, causing us to hang our weary heads and slide into a slumber of our own making, one that nods its approval at apathy and ceases fighting for what is good and right. After all, does it really make a difference what we do?

YES! The answer to that question is a resounding “YES!” It does matter what I do. It does matter how I live out my beliefs. It does make a difference — both in my life and in the lives of countless others who are inadvertently counting on me to fulfill my God-given purpose as it overlaps their lives.

So what am I to do with this knowledge?

Stay awake and start living my faith.

Begin applying the call to move forward in truth, rushing to meet the enemy head-on in battle rather than pretending there is no war being fought. Rising to meet each challenge equipped with a power that comes from HE who is greater than all else. Tearing down strongholds of distorted thinking in my own life in order to raise the standard of Jesus to its rightful place of ruling over me and my dwelling. It’s time to reclaim and occupy territory long overrun and occupied by the prince of this earth. It’s time to cease acting with insecurity, tempering each call toward faith with a moderation of my own realism.

I mean, seriously, since when has true faith ever looked rational to human logic, anyway?!?

Instead, I’m challenging myself (and you if you’re prone toward the same spiritual slumber as I am) to respond with faith to the following words from Matt Redman’s song The Awesome God You Are:

“Let Your Majesty speak peace to me and chase my fears away.
To my heart I preach Your sovereignty and the power of Your name.
I’ll stand in awe of You alone.
God, let hope arise and faith become the fortress of my heart.
I will lift my eyes and see You as the awesome God You are.
Believe You as the awesome God You are.”
(emphasis mine)

I consider today’s post to be a sermon to my own heart as I preach God’s sovereignty and power over my life. In this meek attempt to stir myself up, I pray I am also challenging those who may be struggling along with me to implement the very beliefs we’ve been called to exert in faith.

May your hearts be filled with the assurance of God’s love and power at work in you, dear friends, and may you rise to the call of moving mountains with the seed of faith that is within you. It is enough because He has deemed it so.

Let’s cast aside this temptation to live a “moderate faith” in Jesus Christ.

After all, in the present instance, it ceases to be a virtue.

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