Moderation in all things sounds like a reasonable goal to me. Give me a plate full of eggplant or okra, and I’ll follow that advice to a fault. But I’m liable to renege when brought face to face with my pet weaknesses. Slide a block of cheddar cheese or a scoop or three of dark chocolate ice cream in front of my face and watch me struggle.
To be fair, I’m also in love with blueberries and peaches and strawberries and whole wheat bread and brussels sprouts. I do believe a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of choc … er, fruits and vegetables is our best route to sustainable well-being.
But a couple years back, when gripped in the grimy arms of an especially nasty, nagging bronchial bug, I reluctantly accepted a prescribed dose of antibiotics. Within a week I was cleared up, hale and hearty again.
It’s easy to see why these little pills are so often sought after — they seem to fix so many ills. But used indiscriminately, they can also create superbugs, impervious to any known cure.
As I have reflected on recent discussions within our church over issues significant to us all, I wonder about some of the comments and attitudes expressed. They have hit hard, like a zealous overuse of antibiotics. Earnest souls from around the world have slathered it on with passionate words, texts, quotes and, yes, applause.
Yet, just as efforts to protect our bodies from illness sometimes create the very problems we try to avoid, so too can our efforts to build barriers against evil — both perceived and real.
Zeal to protect the truth can push it further from us and create a resistance to the values Jesus has called His disciples to embrace. Truth will not flourish among us unless we can get our worldwide love of spiritual antibiotics under control.
Those on differing sides point to Scripture as the antidote — and I agree. This “light unto our path” is indeed useful for doctrine, reproof and instruction. But as a heaven-sent letter it is also intended by the Giver to move us forward together in mission. We should be careful lest we apply it like penicillin against the pure in heart in our midst.
Unless we can look at people like Jesus does — beyond the surface to the heart — it is not our duty to cleanse the sanctuary or legislate who He has called.
Jesus’ own rag-tag group of disciples was a disgrace to the gospel for three years. There was Thomas, the skeptic; Matthew, the moneymonger; James and John, hot-headed brothers with the helicopter mom; Judas, hidden traitor; and Peter, the proverbial bull in a china shop. Doubt, denial, bickering and betrayal came from this core body of believers hand-picked to carry on their Lord’s mission.
And then the Spirit came. Characters were changed, differences mended and mission advanced.
The Greek pneuma used in Scripture for the Holy Spirit also denotes "breath" or "wind." We could use some deep-breathing exercises right about now.