Moderately Important?

Moderately Important?

CS Lewis is famous for this logical thought:

"Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance; the only thing it cannot be is moderately important."

Leave it to Lewis to train us in critical thinking. And I'm grateful. Yet I have a question: have you noticed that a high percentage of Christians view their allegiance to Jesus and His Church as merely moderately important? Here lies the fundamental problem of our time: "Christians" have not discovered that Christ is of infinite importance. Christ, and Christ alone, is our treasure. All else must be given up to possess Him.

Christ, Our Treasure, Is Infinitely Important

A few years ago I wrote a poem capturing the essence of Jesus as our Treasure. He is infinitely important. It's titled, The Christmas Treasure in the Field. But this morning, I was reminded again of this infinite importance – and the logic of Lewis – as I read Isaiah 43-46.  Quiet your heart for a moment and reflect on these direct quotations by God, through the prophet Isaiah:

A King James Bible open to Isaiah.

Top 10 Exclusive Truth Claims by God

God says in Isaiah:

  1. "Apart from Me there is no God." 44:6
  2. "Is there any God besides Me?  No, there is no other Rock; I know not one." 44:8
  3. "I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from Me there is no God." 45:5
  4. "... so that ... men may know there is none besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other." 45:6
  5. [Foreigners will say]: "Surely God is with you, and there is no other; there is no other god." 45:14
  6. "I am the Lord, and there is no other." 45:18b
  7. "There is no God apart from Me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but Me." 45:21
  8. "Turn to me and be saved ... for I am God, and there is no other." 45:22
  9. "I am God, and there is no other." 46:9
  10. "Apart from Me there is no Savior."  43:11

These are 10 exclusive truth claims that God is making. He certainly is not inclusive when it comes to sharing His glory or accepting alternate psuedo-gods to His company. He embodies that most unpopular value in 21st century America: exclusivity. "There is no other." And I am glad.

An Exercise in Logic

Let's engage in Lewis-esque logic: These 10 exclusive truth claims in Isaiah are ... drumroll ... either TRUE or FALSE. Let that settle in. It's a binary ballot. Only two options. True or False. This is really important to digest, for humans are prone to inventing all sorts of alternatives to meet their desires. Let's take these two possibilities, one-at-a-time:

Two directions sign
Left or Right? True or False?

1. First, let's assume the 10 truth claims are TRUE. What are the implications? For starters, it means there is only ONE true God. Not many. Not a panoply of true religions. Just one, hyper-exclusive way. In fact, Jesus thought this:

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by Me."  John 14:6

Jesus doesn't say He is a way or a truth but the way and the truth." Talk about a narrow, exclusive truth claim!

Obviously, if the 10 truth claims in Isaiah 43-46 are true, then we have met our match. We can fall down and worship Him as the One and Only, or we can fall under His righteous judgment.

What If I Pull On That Thread?

2.  On the other hand, what if the 10 truth claims in Isaiah are FALSE? Once we pull on that thread, the entire piece of cloth begins to unravel. What do I mean? Simply this: if the 10 claims are FALSE, why should we give any attention to the book of Isaiah?  Isn't it rendered unreliable? The book would be deeply flawed. Why trust in a flawed and deceptive book?

Furthermore, Isaiah is no minor book in the Bible. By some counts, it is quoted more often in the New Testament than any other Old Testament book. So, if Isaiah's document is unreliable, so is the New Testament. And that's not all. Guess which Old Testament prophet Jesus quoted most frequently?  You guessed it: Isaiah. Therefore, we'd need to conclude that Jesus' own understanding of truth must be called into question, for He certainly considered Isaiah to be inviolably accurate. That thread we began pulling is now a pile of yarn.

Yarn used for carpet making.
I Knew Pulling That Thread Would Cause a Mess

So What?

When an Exclusive Truth Claim is made by God (like the Top 10 list above), it forces the reader toward a fork in the road, a binary option. It is either True or False. But it certainly isn't something else. There is no 3rd way. There is no middle ground. There isn't a spectrum to choose from. No shades of nuance.

But that's exactly our problem: we want nuance, options, and an abundance of choices ... so we can suspend judgment and keep coasting along. The majority of believers in Jesus live in the irrational in-between of 'moderately important'. It shows in our choices, habits, work ethic, (dis)honesty, giving, passions, entertainment, speech, and music. We pay lip service to only One God – one way, one truth – but deny it at the first sign of trouble.

To bookend our time, reconsider Lewis' words carefully:

"Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance; the only thing it cannot be is moderately important."

No importance? Infinite importance? Moderate importance?

Choose wisely.