It seems like there is extremism everywhere these days. Some are extremely opinionated about their politics and politicians. Even to the point of hatred. There is the extreme left and the extreme right. There are extreme theological viewpoints. There is extreme weather. Even extreme sports, like bungee jumping, paragliding, windsurfing, skateboarding. Wow! I would never attempt any of those things.
Some people are extreme in their views and their actions. That’s not all bad. They just are enthusiastic about everything. They participate with their whole hearts. No half-way. Just all in. They give everything to their sport, their teaching, their politics, their travels, or their religion.
I don’t think I’m an extremist, but I suppose some people would call me that. I don’t usually want to be identified with those on either extreme sides of an issue. I avoid controversy, but not at all cost. I just like to be peaceful and open minded.
But I’ve been thinking about how Jesus was regarded when He was here on earth. Many of His views seemed radical to the Jewish people around Him. He was extremely friendly to sinful people. The snobby religious leaders didn’t like that. We might say He was extremely liberal in His interpretation of the law. At least that’s what the Jewish authorities thought when He advocated the spirit of the law rather than abiding by the picky hundreds of additions that had been made to the original Ten Commandments.
Are we afraid to follow Jesus whole-heartedly? Is it because we’re lazy? Or afraid of what people might say or think? Christ wasn’t afraid of anything. He spent all of His energy in teaching and serving. He went off by Himself when He needed rest and communion with His Father. He sometimes spent all night in prayer. That’s kind of extreme, isn’t it? Then He would re-enter the everyday world of sickness and strife and hatred and political nightmare and do all that He could to show people a better way.
His love was extreme, was it not? And isn’t it still? “Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:2, NIV). “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39, NIV). “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NIV).
Extreme giving. That’s what Jesus’ life was all about. Can we say the same? Are we following His example?