If you haven’t already, you might want to read the previous parts of this essay for context. Using the story about David bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem as a backdrop I’ve been suggesting that we practice our faith in Jesus with both wise and white-hot passion. With that, for the last time, let me take up where I left off last time…
Contrast David shedding his kingly decorations and dancing a sweaty jig right out there in public with his previous dignified procession complete with a newly painted cart pulled by freshly groomed oxen. Which of the two displayed a more evident decorum? Which of the two presents a cooler Christianity? When we practice our faith in worship, words, or work is it either coolness or decorum that we’re shooting for? Are we trying to please God or impress people? I wonder sometimes…
Jesus advised us to “count the cost” of following him. As I said above, sometimes the cost is that in your passion you will make mistakes and people will get hurt. But even when you express it in the wisest way humanly possible your passion will still isolate you from people who don’t care as much as you do about God and his agenda. They’ll judge you for what they consider fanatical and distance themselves from you because they’re ashamed of their lesser passion for Christ. You might inadvertently push people away who aren’t ready to love Jesus like you do.
While this is no cause for self-righteous gloating, neither is it reason to tone down your devotion to him. I believe in balance, I really do. But true spiritual balance is not found between zeal and no zeal, or between lots of zeal and a little zeal. If you’re looking for balance, don’t reduce your passion – add wisdom. We should be moderate in drinking alcohol, sports team fandom, and media consumption; but moderation doesn’t apply to loving God. How can we love our Gracious Creator too much? He didn’t tell us to love him moderately, but with all our heart, soul, and strength!
In our obsession for moderation we’ve created a tame and cautious Christianity. We’ve become, to put it bluntly, conscientious to the point of comatose. I’m all for a wiser spirituality, but as someone said, “Wisdom everywhere, courage nowhere. Dear Lord, we’re dying of prudence!” I’m afraid that we tend toward a domesticated brand of faith that though it might well impress the world, it won’t impact those who are hungry for more than a little religion to round out their pretty well contented lives.
“And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.”
What an ominous way to conclude the scene! Though it seems that the writer drew a line connecting Michal’s meager, if not non-existent, devotion to Jehovah to her barren womb. I can’t say for certain that the Spirit intends this as some sort of spiritual precedent for the ages. My concern for hermeneutical accuracy notwithstanding, we might extrapolate from it that people who are content with a mild dose of Christianity don’t tend to be spiritually reproductive.
I mean, why would God give spiritual children to people with an insipid spirituality? Childbearing requires a certain amount of health. If one’s heart is unhealthy so might their womb be. Only incendiary things can catch other things on fire!
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Should we reduce our zeal for the sake of others? Never!
Should we look for wiser ways to manage it so we have the best chance of influencing them toward a similar passion for him? Always!
Should we expect their zeal to look, sound, and act just like ours? Not at all advisable.
Should we hope and pray that they will fall hopelessly in love with God and express that love in ways appropriate to their own cultural preferences and unique personalities? Sounds right!
Sound about right to you?