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To The Extreme

March 12, 2010

I wrote this when I was taking a class last week. I was reflecting on the temptation to gravitate to extremes. I thought about it this week when I attended the funeral for Jim Bill McInteer, a man who exemplified encouragement and balance. My prayer is that I can follow in that direction.

I have spent this last week in class at Harding Graduate School. It is focused on the church history, from the Reformation until the 20th Century. There have been a lot of names and dates, but there are also interesting stories about people debating and deciding what they thought the Bible meant. Something that comes up repeatedly (I guess in all of history) is the pendulum swing. When a new idea would gain attention, some people would gravitate toward it, while others would gravitate to extreme opposition. Pretty soon, those who opposed it had swung so far in their direction that people rebel against their ideas. Once they reject those ideas (you guessed it), they swing in the other direction and go even further. So, rather than trying to find the “golden mean,” a centrist position that mediates the two, people end up polarized on either side. Most of the definitions we have learned of various ideas have to do with the concepts they were reacting against; this idea grew out of reaction to that one, etc.
I wonder if that same thing happens today. I think we all want to be “middle of the road” in our beliefs (although that definition is hard to nail down). But our tendency when we run into something we disagree with is to swing so far in the opposite direction that we make the same mistake, just differently. If you are driving down a two lane road and avoid the ditch on your right by turning left into oncoming traffic, you haven’t helped yourself at all. This concept can play itself out in a variety of ways. I have found myself praying lately that I could avoid those kinds of pendulum swings in both thought and action. Just some thoughts…

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