Moderates In The Church - by Jeff Grimes

Those of us who watch the cable news channels, or the network news broadcast often here the word "moderate" used. The political pundits are especially fond of labeling certain politicians as "moderate." A moderate politician's speeches will be spoken in such a way as not to offend either those on the "right", or those on the "left." He never takes a stand on any particular issue; after all, he is seeking votes. He is interested in his approval rating. In South Alabama we would label him as a "fence-straddler." Moderates and fence-straddlers in political circles are common.

It's sad to say, but moderates and fence-straddlers in the Lord's church are becoming more common with the passing of time. The Lord's attitude toward moderates is seen in His letter to the church at Laodicea. "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16). In other words the Lord is saying, "You make me sick at my stomach." This should startle every moderate in the Lord's church.

Pilate was a political moderate. He knew Jesus had done nothing "worthy of death." However, Pilate being the moral coward that he was took a moderate position, and decided to appease the Jews, who were clamoring for Jesus' death. As a gesture of indifference Pilate "took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it" (Matthew 27:24). Pilate in declaring himself innocent did not make it so. Him being an "observer" rather than a participant did not relieve him of his responsibility to do what he knew was right. Jesus said, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad" (Matthew 12:30).

Brother H. Leo Boles, in his commentary on Matthew makes the following observation on this passage: In the great conflict between life and darkness, good and evil, the kingdom of God and of Satan, there is no middle ground; there is no neutral position;... The Pharisees were obliged either to join Christ or to be against him. They had to become allies of God or co-workers with Satan: there was no other alternative. "No man can serve two masters" at the same time (Matthew 6:24). The teachings of Jesus with his unanswerable arguments forced the conclusion upon these Pharisees, and they must now take sides with Jesus or join issue with him; the choice is theirs; sufficient instruction, evidence, and light have been given them for the choice; hence the responsibility of the choice rests upon them. To make the matter clear and easy for them to see, Jesus presents only two alternatives - if they are not with him, they are against him (268-69).

A moderate in the political arena might be acceptable on certain occasions, but a moderate in the Lord's Church is not; especially in the eldership, and behind the pulpit. Many congregations have elders who are moderates. Instead of being shepherds of the flock they have become pawns of moderate brethren. Moderate elders are stuck in neutral making every effort not to "rock the boat", so as to make waves, and run someone off. You can be sure moderate brethren will never be guilty of "turning the world upside down" (Acts 17:6). It takes courage, conviction and the implementation of the "whole Armour of God" to stand against the "wiles of the devil."

"Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins" (Isaiah 58:1).

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