You’ve no doubt heard of the Pennsylvania Army Reserve officer who gave a briefing on religious extremism and put evangelical Christianity at the top of the list followed by Catholicism. Just for the record, this was the sole act of one misguided reserve officer and not the point of view of the United States Army, at least not officially.
A colleague of mine sent me the link to the article and said, “The Army has just labeled you as an extremist.” My reply to him was, “Yes, if only we were as extreme for Christ as some believe us to be. This country would not be in the mess it is in today.”
Jesus gave us an example of an “extreme” Christian; his name was John the Baptist. Of him Jesus said:
“Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11)
What made John so “extreme?” He was sold out to Christ and to God’s glory. He was a humble and fearless man. And he was an answer to his parents’ prayers. When John was just eight days old Zacharias’ prophesied:
“‘Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember His holy covenant, the oath which He swore to our father Abraham: to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest; for you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways, to give knowledge of salvation to His people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.’ So the child grew and became strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his manifestation to Israel.” (Luke 1:68-80)
In the middle of that passage is the secret to our success as “extreme” Christians. Zacharias reminds us of the oath God swore to Abraham “to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life” (vv. 74-75).
As born again believers, we have been delivered from eternal death through salvation in Jesus Christ. For most unsaved people, death is the most fearful thing they face. But we no longer have to fear death. What do we fear most of the time as Christians? Usually it is nothing more than ridicule. That’s why Bill O’Reilly uses his bully tactics in calling strict adherents to the Word of God as “Bible-thumpers.” We need not fear Mr. O’Reilly or the rest of the lost world. The Apostle Paul reminded Timothy:
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7)
If we are going to fear anything or anyone, we should fear God; in fact we are called to fear Him with awe and reverence:
“Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.” (Psalm 2:10-11)
Imagine America if the pulpits and people of God would conduct themselves as such. Imagine the state of our union should our elected leaders serve this nation in such a manner. The Apostle Paul instructs born again believers that because we no longer must fear death, because of our victory in Christ, we are to stand strong:
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Would to God we would become a church that is steadfast, immovable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord.
Would to God it would begin with me.
Now that would be extreme…
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Copyright © 2013 David Jeffers