There is a misunderstanding today that Christianity is synonymous with conservatism. This is easily misunderstood in our current climate because of what a true conservative (not necessarily Republican but conservative) believes. When it comes to how we conserve finances, what we believe about traditional marriage, and other important issues, we may jump to the conclusion that Christianity and conservatism are perfect bedfellows.
In some cases, what is being taught is the more conservative you are, the more godly you are. Here’s the question: can you be too godly for God? That seems like a preposterous notion. Let’s look at the nuance of this idea.
When we say too godly for God, we are not saying that you can be too much like Christ. We can never attain the perfect godliness of Christ. He was perfect and “committed no sin (I Peter 2:22).” So not only can we of course not be perfect, but we could never be better than perfect. No one would argue that. Although being more Christ-like is our daily goal.
The question is not about sinlessness. The statement of being too godly for God is can you be more perfect than God? The question deals more with the idea of can you do things more holy than God? Let me explain what I’m saying – and not saying.
God has set His standard for what is holy – what is sacred, what is right. We know that we cannot meet that standard. None of us can. The point is not that we would figure out how to be perfect, although we strive for holiness, the point is we are not perfect, cannot be, and should see our need for a Savior.
The problem is, man is always trying to create his own righteousness. We are always trying to impress God. So often some look at holiness, not as what God has called us to, but whatever is the most conservative is the most holy.
For a practical example, let’s think about finances. God has called us in Scripture to save money. We think of saving money as a conservative practice. But could you save too much? Yes. Many places in the Proverbs and the New Testament talk about this. God has also called us to enjoy good gifts from Him, and if we are saving without enjoyment, we could be in sin. If we are not not giving to the poor or God’s Kingdom because we are so focused on saving, we are not pleasing Him.
So saving is a conservative principle. But we could save too much. God cautions us to not “walk in the step with the wicked” (Proverbs 1:1), but we could isolate ourselves so much that we have no contact with anyone who is not a Christian. This results in the loss of or ignoring building relationships to share the Gospel, or missing out on any relationships with anyone for that matter.
The problem for those in this camp: whatever is more conservative is more holy. So we put things on a continuum scale, and push toward the more conservative, thinking we are pushing toward the more holy.
If we are doing this, we often are doing one of two things. First, you may be looking at politics. I’ve fallen into this trap in the past. Looking to what we call “conservatives” thinking this is godliness. The two are not always mutually exclusive.
The other is just thinking about ways to practically live conservatively. At times I’ve missed time to be generous with others so I could save another buck. Forgetting that Christ was generous with me on the cross.
This was really the sin of the Pharisees in Scripture. They focused on being “more religious” or more holy. In doing so, they may have done the most religious things, but may have missed God things. The bar they set was often “above” God’s, which is why Jesus told those who suffered under them “for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:30).”
The overall issue is that we end up with a misleading focus. Our focus becomes conservatism, not Jesus. To understand more about being Jesus-centered, you can read my previous blog. If we are focused on being conservative, that’s what our god will become. We can be the most conservative people in the world and miss Jesus.
Stay the course, but stay in it with Jesus. Proverbs 4:27 says, “do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” We can become too conservative and sin as well. We can attempt to become too godly for even God’s standard and miss Jesus. Let’s not let the philosophy of conservatism drive our Christianity, but Christ. For we truly cannot be more right than God.
Are you someone who thinks Christianity is just becoming more conservative? Do you struggle with being more conservative instead of being more like Christ? If so, would you spend more time reading through one of the Gospels to discover how Christ acted, so we can imitate Him instead?
Thanks for taking time to read this Maddening Theology post. If you enjoyed this content you can find Pastor Tim’s sermons at www.cornerstoneforestcity.org. You can also join us at 520 Marion St. Browndale, PA 18421 on Sundays at 10 AM. To make following the blog easier you can also register. You can also join us on Facebook at Cornerstone Forest City. Also, don’t forget to download our APP on iTunes or Googleplay.