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Our Sunday school class is studying Ecclesiastes. Last Sunday’s lesson was on a portion of chapter 7. Verse 16 got my attention: “Do not be excessively righteous, and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?” How can a person be “excessively righteous”? Can a person ever be too good for Jesus? Of course not, if he is following what is indeed righteous. What often happens is that Christians add to the precepts of Scripture and manufacture additional rules for righteous living. But it goes further than this. There are Christians who spend their days scrutinizing every action of fellow believers searching for something—anything—that just isn’t righteous enough.
A few months ago, American Vision decided to put on a rally for Christians to celebrate God’s blessings to our nation. We thought it would be a great way for like-minded Christians to get together and see that they are not alone in their efforts to raise their children in godly homes, teach them the basics of a biblical worldview, learn about the founding of their nation, and enjoy an evening of music and fellowship. Inevitably, there’s always at least one “excessively righteous” person out there who’s got to nitpick in the name or Jesus. Here’s some of what one nitpicker wrote in response to tomorrow’s rally:
It is a sad day when Christians believe that God is NOT in full control of our destiny, whether in America or not! If we say we believe in His sovereignty, then nothing has occurred here in America that was not predestined. But, agreeably, this does not excuse our lack of involvement in ALL areas of living in America. But understand, that for you to be making this a commercial venture, raising $$$ with the pretense that it will sway our path is the ultimate in arrogance.
There is no need to comment on his “predestination” remark since he makes up for it with his call for “involvement in ALL areas of living in America,” but the text of his entire email precludes such a claim on his part. His comment about “raising $$$” is typical of the “excessively righteous.” God forbid that this is a “commercial venture.” Who does he think will pay for the speakers, the music, the use of the church, and everything else that goes into an event like this? He sends his child to a Christian school. Is this not a “commercial venture”?
American Vision isn’t making a dime from this rally, but what if we were? Is this a bad thing? Is it wrong for Christians to be involved in a “commercial venture”? If American Vision doesn’t make money somewhere, then there is no monthly magazine, books, textbooks, tapes, DVDs, and other educational materials that we create to help Christian parents educate their children. And what are we charging for the event? A whopping $3.00 if you come in a group and $9.00 if you register at the door!
He claims that we are being arrogant because we believe that this single event “will sway [America’s] path.” Whoever made such a claim? Who could ever conceive of such an absurdity? I’ve been doing this type of work for nearly 30 years. Every little bit counts. There is no single person or event that will put America on the right path. America lost its way one decision at a time. It’s the little things that make a difference; it’s the “little foxes that spoil the vines” (Song 2:15). Why bother starting a Christian school or even educating our children because we might be arrogant to believe that these seemingly inconsequential actions might actually have some impact over time in restoring our nation?
If we listen to the nitpickers of this world, we wouldn’t or couldn’t do anything. Nothing is good enough or righteous enough for them. If we’re not doing what they believe is important their way with their emphasis, then it’s the wrong thing being done the wrong way with the wrong emphasis (see Mark. 9:38–40).