Is Extremism Evil? (TCM)
In our modern world, a word like extremism will turn heads. It is a “buzz” word that immediately identifies someone who has gone too far regarding an ideal, thought process, or worldview. Most common within our society is this word’s association with Islamic organizations like ISIS, Hamas, and Al Qaeda. Organizations that literally do anything to make their message heard and to accomplish their goals. They will decapitate and burn people alive (ISIS), use women and children as human shields (Hamas), and blow themselves up (Al Qaeda), all in the name of Allah and their political conviction that Sharia Law should become a global norm for all human beings. Now of course, there are more terrorist organizations than this out there but these are the big three that most Americans will recognize right off the bat. Extremism is defined as, “belief in and support for ideas that are very far from what most people consider correct or reasonable.” For Islamists this is a change to Sharia Law from any and all other forms of human civilization and law. It is a radical notion that these groups push for claiming a righteous cause in their acts of barbarism.
To combat this many Americans (including many Christians) push for a more moderate philosophical worldview. It is a worldview where relativism rules supreme and acceptance of others is considered “gospel.” Now to be fair, this isn’t universal. Social justice issues still collect their extremists where people are held up as “heroes” of modern civilization for helping society progress, but these extremists are still tame in comparison to the extremists we see in Islamic terrorist organizations. When the church looks at this word however…I think we need to be careful not to condemn it, the main reason being because I honestly and whole heartedly believe that we are supposed to be it.
Nothing about us is supposed to be compromising. We are not intended to be some soft picture of holiness where we “kinda” resemble the Jesus that ticked people off so bad that they crucified him. We aren’t called to some half-hearted attempt at community that reflects the Kingdom of Heaven. We are not called to moderately preach the gospel that changes damaged human beings into beings truly capable of reflecting the image of God in their own person and the triune nature of God in their relationships. In all of these, we are called to excellence. In holiness we are to be holy as our Father in heaven (1 Peter 1:16), in community we are to love one another with such a love that the world stands in wonder of it (Jn. 13:34-35), and in proclaiming the gospel we are to be bold, unashamed, and unhindered (Acts 9:28; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8; 28:31). We are called to extreme faith that at times comes with an extreme price. While many in the Islamic world are willing to take life and possibly lose it in fighting for their cause, we are called lose it for His sake when persecution comes. Jesus makes this the clear expectation when he says, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it,” (Mark 8:35). There is nothing “moderate” about Christian faith…it is extreme through and through. The real question then becomes, are you an extremist for Jesus…or not?