Synonyms for the word extreme include extravagant, immoderate, excessive, uncompromising, unreasonable. I think we are living in an extreme culture. I don’t like it. And I don’t like the way I am influenced by it.
One of the most obvious examples of extreme-ism is in politics. Have you ever noticed that Republicans can find nothing good to say about Democrats and nothing bad to say about Republicans? Have you ever noticed that Democrats have nothing good to say about Republicans and nothing bad to say about Democrats? I may be naive, but no one can be all good. Or all bad. I’d prefer we all use some discernment and recognize the good and the bad. (Although, I must admit that some of the extremes people go to to find all the bad in politicians is quite hilarious.)
I’ve also found that we expect extreme-ism in normal every day people (as opposed to politicians). Why do we get angry when the waitress doesn’t serve us quickly enough? Why do I grumble when the line I choose moves slowly? The one that hits too close to home is – Why do I hate people who ride on my back bumper because I’m not going fast enough when I do the very same thing to cars in the morning on my way to work when I’m running late? Why aren’t you perfect when you deal with me? Why don’t we allow for others to make mistakes? Are we so perfect we don’t need mercy? Why are the extremes in my life negatives?
We love extreme make-overs, extreme sports, and let’s not forget the Chocolate Extreme Blizzard. But, maybe not everything in our lives needs to be all or nothing. Maybe we should allow others to be human and make mistakes. Maybe we should say to our daughter that her report card shows that she worked really hard – even though it may not be straight As. Maybe my yard doesn’t have to be perfectly mowed, trimmed, weeded, and whacked. Maybe I don’t have to be supermom. Maybe you don’t either. Maybe that would take some of the stress out of our lives – if we stopped living to the extreme. If we stopped expecting everything to be perfect.
Maybe we should leave extreme to the One who is Perfect. In The Prodigal God, Timothy Keller defines prodigal as recklessly extravagant or lavish. God went to extremes for you and for me. What a wonder to think of my Father in heaven as lavishly giving His love, His gifts, His Son for me. Rather than be extreme in selfish ways, my response to Him should be in extreme devotion, extreme giving, extreme love. And if I want to please Him, shouldn’t I also extend that extreme love, extreme mercy, and extreme giving to those around me?
Teach me, Lord, to be lavish with your love as I walk through this extreme culture.