Does the title bring anything to mind in your life? (Might be a great source of stories for a sermon series!) (Some might think my sermons belong in the category.) "Extreme errors" might make you think of errors so obvious, everyone sees them ... like dropping a game winning pass in the end zone (Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl XIII) or a fly ball that costs a team the World Series (Texas Rangers). That is not what I'm talking about.
It is well-known fact, among students of theology and church history, that the most dangerous heresies are not those that are so wildly and glaringly different from orthodoxy that anyone can spot them, but those that are just a little bit off and close enough to the truth that the error might be overlooked ... and believed. (Same thing applies to lots of things on Facebook and the internet!) I want to mention two that I hear and observe all the time, both by people outside and inside the church. The reason I call them "extreme errors" is because they are errors on the opposite / extreme ends of a spectrum where the truth is actually in the middle of the two.
The first extreme error is the belief that this life is everything, meaning it is only in this life (on earth) that we experience anything. If this is all there is, we need to enjoy life to its utmost and give no thought to anything beyond. Paul expressed this idea (not his personal belief) in 1 Corinthians 15:32 (quoting from Isaiah 22:13) "If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'" It is probably obvious that a lot of people live by this motto because they live like there is no tomorrow ... or forever.
Jesus confronted this kind of belief and lifestyle in a parable often called "The Parable of the Rich Fool." He tells of a man who was so focused on the things of life that he grabbed as much as he could; when he had a bunch of stuff he said, "You have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry." The only problem was that he didn't get many years. Jesus concludes the story with, "But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." (Luke 12:20-21) It is an extreme error to live as if this life is all there is / is everything.
But consider the other extreme (this one more common among people "in the church") that this life is nothing; it is the afterlife that is everything and we are just biding our time until it begins for us. (As some have put it— "Some people are so heavenly-minded they are no earthly good.") Common among people who negate the importance of life in the here-and-now is that they can be concerned only about people's "salvation" and not their current "situations" (situations that can be very tough). They may not feed the hungry or clothe the naked because sharing the gospel with them is the priority. Don't misunderstand, it is the biggest priority but not the only one. New Testament writers like John and James spoke strongly about meeting physical needs along with spiritual needs.
So what is the balance? The truth is that this life is important. Jesus said, in John 10:10, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." He came to make a difference in life right now; does it show in your life? The most important thing about this life, however, is that it is in this life that we get ready for the life to come. There are no second chances after we die; today is the day of salvation. The balance is, this life is important for now and forever. Are you living in balance?
November 30, 2017
Scripture quotations are from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version), copyright 2001 by Crossway