Recently, Jay Leno made a joke that offended some Sikhs. Last night, I saw a news commentator discussing this, and he said something to the effect, “some people take their religion too far.” I think he was expressing a fairly common belief in our culture. It’s fine to believe whatever you want, just don’t let it affect your life too much. If you take your beliefs too seriously, you’ll turn into one of those extremist religious wackos.
Is this really true? Well, I suppose that depends on what your religion is. Let’s just look at biblical Christianity. Can it be taken too far?
Jesus was once asked what the greatest commandment was. His answer,
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:36-40)
Matthew 5:43-45 tells us this love for others must be extended to all people, even enemies.
Is this something that can be taken too far? Would this lead to hatred and violence? Certainly people have committed all sorts of atrocities in the name of Christianity, but their actions couldn’t be more unchristian. They aren’t taking Christianity too far. Quite the opposite!
God insists that if we follow him, we go all in. In Mark 12:30, we are commanded to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” God demands we follow him with all we have and all we are. (See Luke 9:57-62 and Luke 14:25-35 for more about how much God demands of his followers.) We are told that moderation in our faith is a virtue. However, in Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus tells us this “virtue” of not going too far actually makes him sick!
As for me, I want to be all in. I want to fallow Jesus all the way, and do whatever he leads. (Of course, I fail and fall short with alarming regularity, but I want to do better.) How about you? How far do you want to take your faith in God?