Being An Extremist

Michael Beck

“My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.” (Psalm 63:8)

Are there benefits in being an extremist? Are there disadvantages? An extremist has the attitude:

If you’re going to get something, you might as well get it all.
If you’re going to enjoy something, you might as well enjoy it to the max.
If you’re going to commit to something, you might as well be all in.
If you’re going to do something, you might as well give it all you’ve got.

Why go half-way?

When I was seven years old, my second grade nun, Sister Mary Marilyn, took my mother aside and very seriously told her: “Michael is a person of extremes. If he becomes a bad man, he will be a very bad man. If he becomes a good man, he will be a very good man.” In that moment my mother began praying very hard for me; and thank God, He heard her prayers!

There are dangers in being a person given to extremes. People get caught up in cults because they want the most hardcore version of a belief system. Another name for an extremist is a zealot. Saul of Tarsus was an extremist. His zealotry fueled his persecution of the saints.

“Concerning zeal, persecuting the church” (Philippians 3:6) But when God turned Saul around, the same zeal that possessed him in an evil cause, was directed toward God’s good cause. The zealous apostle Paul could say, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” (1 Cor. 15:10)

It is only by God’s grace that unholy extremists become holy ones. David was a man of passion, who was at his best when he channelled his passion toward God. “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.” (Ps. 27:4) When David failed to set God before his face, his passionate nature took him horribly off course. God’s beauty must move us more than any other sight in this world. Gaining Him must be our passion, our pursuit, the object of our zeal.

God would take all our energies, all the hunger and thirst of our life, and harness it for His glory. He would curb our worst instincts and unleash a passion in us for all that is good and holy. He is a passionate God, who wants to enter and flow in us like a mighty river. Extremists only find what they are looking for in a God who is more extreme than they are, and who has created them for Himself.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.