By Lane Noble
In an episode of Family Guy, the daughter, Meg, is persuaded to convert to Christianity by actor and evangelist Kirk Cameron. As a result of her conversion, she tries to convert her family.
“Meg,” Her mother, Lois Griffin, says. “I’m glad you found something to have faith in, but there’s such a thing as moderation!”
This is the attitude of probably most religious Americans. It’s commonplace to hear an endless string of justifications for why one shouldn’t take all of the teachings of one’s religion seriously. The argument is that it’s not necessary in today’s day and age. We’re enlightened twenty-first century Americans. We know that moderate religion is the way to go.
I hope to convince you that this chain of reasoning isn’t sound at all. This logic is not only wrong, but it will, at one point or another, lead to hopelessness and despair. I hope to convince you that there is another chain of thinking that leads to hope and confidence.
Why Not Moderate Religion?
Everyone has personal beliefs, and those personal beliefs are what drive us every single day. Many of the beliefs that we hold are beliefs that we’ve give thought to, or ones that have been passed down to us by our parents and/or legal guardians. These beliefs might be about God. They may be about morality. They might be about politics. Whatever those beliefs are, we hold them consciously. We are aware of them.
On the other hand, however, there are many beliefs that we hold that we aren’t aware of. Counselors and therapists know this well. They know that certain beliefs put us in certain patterns of thinking, and destructive beliefs can lead to destructive patterns of thinking. That’s why many therapists and counselors will try to help clients identify those beliefs and thus alter destructive patterns of thought into life-affirming patterns of thought.
When it comes to beliefs about God, we have many conscious beliefs. We might consciously believe that God is loving. Or we might consciously believe that God expects certain things of us or doesn’t expect certain things of us. It may be, however, that there are certain, unconscious beliefs about God that are driving us without us realizing it.
Those who hold to a moderate form of “Christianity” usually believe in a loving God. They would be correct in that. However, there is an unconscious belief that many hold about God that is the driving force of how they relate to Him. It’s so subtle that many don’t even realize it’s wrong, The idea is that, if God is loving, then He doesn’t require radical life change from His followers. Their beliefs could be summed up in one simple statement, “Live life to the fullest and, while death is sad, at least I’m going to heaven afterwards.”
This sort of thinking, whether the person who who is thinking it admits it or not, makes God out to be just another lifestyle choice, like the choice to start working out, or to go on a diet, or to spend less time on social media. It’s a good way to live life, but it doesn’t define us.
To some readers it might seem odd to have their identity in wrapped up in Jesus Christ. Here’s why it makes sense: If God is the Creator of all things, He and He alone reserves the right to define His creation as He sees fit. He is the Creator of reality. He is the One Who gets to define it. As our Creator, He and He alone grants rights to His creation. By making God just another “lifestyle choice,” we are essentially telling God we have the right to define reality for ourselves.
One might respond, “But nobody full devotes themselves to God. I’ll still go to Heaven.” Not according to God. God Himself condemns such thinking in the book of Revelation. Speaking to a church in Laodicea area, He says, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16) The work “lukewarm” is a term that refers to the temperature of water. To be lukewarm is to be neither hot or cold. Jesus uses this word to refer to people who are not fully committed to Himself. He uses pretty strong language against those who live their lives in such a way.
Why, then, does moderate “faith” in Christ lead to hopelessness? First of all, if God does matter more than anything else, then there is more to life than God. A world view that suggests that there is more to life than God is a world view that lets us despair about the missed opportunities of our lives. All of our tragedies are here to stay. In the biblical world view, the joy of God gives us hope because it far surpasses the suffering of this world. (Romans 8:18) If there is more to life than God, our sufferings actually have enduring consequences. Those consequences are only temporary in a Christian worldview.
Second, it leads to hope and despair because it means that God isn’t fully involved in our lives. The implication of this is that God doesn’t have a comprehensive plan of salvation that gives us hope in the midst of our rough circumstances. It means He is overlooking some suffering and invested in other suffering. In the Christian world view, God will do away with all suffering, and one day it will be as though the horrible things of this world never happened.
Lastly, moderate “faith” in Christ leads us to hell. Faith in moderation is the road to damnation. As we’ve seen, we’re either in or out. No middle ground for Jesus.
This may scare some. However, there is nothing to fear. Jesus has His arms open wide for all to come in. Salvation is free. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” You don’t have to do anything to but to put your faith in Christ. All we need to is place our faith in Him. He will teach us His ways through His Word (the Bible.)
Will you consider coming to Christ today? His arms are open wide.