Sometimes when God begins that gentle nudge on my heart, I am only minutely aware of what He’s prompting me to think, or feel, or act on. But often, as time goes on, that gentle nudge becomes a nagging tug, and then my heart begins to be bothered in a big way. I really believe this is how He causes us to take action on issues. And recently, that tug has been giving rise to an issue I just need to barrel through. It will not be settled till I do.
We are living in a world where compromise seems to be the key word. Where negotiations and finding common good is important if anything is to be accomplished. But I wonder sometimes, does common good, does compromise, or negotiating to meet in the middle leave us in a precarious position where we are neither right nor wrong and we find ourselves standing in the middle ground?
For what seems like a solid generation, I think the middle ground is eroding into the common ground, the place where many people find themselves. In that world I was raised in, there was never any room for compromise. For that, in some ways, I’m so grateful. I have never doubted my relationship with an amazing and powerful God, ever. As a teen, it sure wrankled my spirit though! I thought there should be more compromise, more grace and less condemnation. I thought there should be allowances and that surely God loved people beyond the rules and commandments. Surely, there might be a middle ground. A lot of my friends lived there, in the middle ground, and it was a struggle to not wander in that territory. It was a few steps away from what I knew to be true, and the constant grace I wanted to live under because I wouldn’t give up walking in the middle ground.
That place between truth and falsehood is sure a good looking place, isn’t it? Everyone loves the vast acreage in the middle ground. There’s no frustration, no anger, no condemnation and no judgement in the middle ground. Legalistic attitudes go bye-bye in the middle ground and living there is so much easier. But in reality, can you really live in the middle ground and still follow Jesus? Maybe we need to define the middle ground a little bit, or better yet, maybe we need to define what is NOT middle ground to know if it’s real and if it’s fine to walk with Jesus in the middle ground.
I’ll tell you right off the bat what is NOT the middle ground. Middle ground is not the issue you might think it is. Middle ground is not the debate between to drink alcohol or not to drink it. Middle ground is not the argument betweens “hymns” and “worship” music. Middle ground is not the space between traditional or contemporary. Middle ground is not the debate between raising your hands in church, or clapping, or sitting stoically. Middle ground is not speaking in tongues, or “gifts for today” and “gifts of yesterday”. Truthfully, none of that is the middle ground. Those are the interpretations that we have of the one truth. But truth still exists, and you are either in it or not, and these issues I assure you are not the middle ground.
Middle ground, in my opinion, is that point where you wander just far enough from the truths you actually do believe in, or that you know to be true, that you are no longer within the boundary of your own belief.
Middle ground is the point you indulge your heart just long enough to lose sight of the truth you do know.
Truth doesn’t actually disappear when you step into the middle ground, you do.
Middle ground is not on any real path at all. In fact, it goes nowhere worthile. You left a meaningful path when you followed your heart past the point of truth.
Middle ground is often referred to in a positive note. It’s that place where we agree to disagree, it’s the place we compromise, it’s the place where no one is really right or really wrong, and we are much more comfortable in the middle ground than we are with all kinds of opposition on either side of it. Middle ground is where we like to be if we are uncomfortable with being uncomfortable!
It’s easy to wander into this middle ground almost unknowingly. Social media would have us believe that we’ve entered a new era, where no one is right, no one is wrong, and everything goes. The middle ground is that spot where we say, “well, I don’t believe that’s right, but …oh well.” So your belief is simply yours and there is no repulsion for what you believe is wrong. We love the person, as we should, but we also let that cause us to stray from the love of the truth sometimes. If your love for a person affects your love of the truth negatively, then you really don’t love that person as you should.
So why the tug? Why is the “middle ground” weighing on me so heavily? Because the middle ground has started screaming. We need to be so mightily steeped in the truth, that the middle ground just screams danger to us. What we hear, what we watch, what we spend our time doing….if you pull it apart and examine it, are you putting in your heart and mind the truth of God’s word, or is it screaming middle ground? Is everything you watch or see or hear something you’d tell your child to do? Does it line up with scripture? Or is it in the middle ground, while you tell them to live truth?
Are you watching a TV series where the characters or what they say, or the way they are living their lives is contrary to scripture? Do you sing lyrics along your way into work that are contrary to God’s Word? Do you eat like you shouldn’t? Do you speak like the world? Is what comes out of your mouth with one friend different from what comes out of your mouth when you’re with another? You have entered the middle ground. Do you believe in being pure outside of marriage, and yet habits get the best of you? Do you keep the freebie in the grocery store because the clerk forgot to charge you? Are you screaming at the driver in front of you? Or hail your own salute when he flips you off and zags around you? You have entered the middle ground. What about laziness? We know it’s wrong. But what are we when we sit around for hours on our phones, scrolling, watching video’s, playing games…I know it. I’ve done it. But we are just “relaxing” “Relaxing” is fine. There’s a time for that. The Bible says so…right? Well…if that is really what is refreshing us and helping us rest up for the battle for people’s lives and eternity, then yes? But most studies will tell you that screen time is actually not relaxing for the body, it’s not refreshing it, and we are not actually resting. Truthfully, we’re indulging ourselves and laziness is part of the middle ground. Not actually doing something awful, but not really doing anything at all. I’m guilty. I know. Are you lying to yourself by not answering God’s call on your life…telling yourself you are not qualified, or claiming no time, or no ability….then you are in the middle ground. Because you either believe the truth of the call and God’s ability to empower and equip you, or you don’t. The middle ground exists in our decisions to act and act within God’s truth, not within the truth itself. Truth itself never walks in the middle ground. All of this thinking about the middle ground of course recalled the verse about being lukewarm. Couldn’t help it. But I noticed something I hadn’t before.
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16
It was written to the prideful church at Laodecia. Why on earth would the writer tell them that it is better if they were either hot or cold? Isn’t a “little bit hot” better than all-out cold? And I realized something must be horribly wrong with the middle ground for that to be true. Something happens in the middle ground that is detestable. It could be that it’s like any other hotbed of activity. When so many wander from the truth and enter the middle ground, it becomes the place to be. It doesn’t change truth, but more people are enticed to leave truth and check out the middle ground.
You see, the people who always stand firmly on the side of falsehood, well they are easy to negate, easier to keep away from. They actually look and feel wrong. But those who stand in the middle ground, those are the ones who don’t look wrong, don’t make you question if your action is actually based on truth, and they accept you easily. When you step into the middle ground, you’ve become a land mind of complacency that is easy to suck others into. You are dangerous not just to your own self, you are dangerous to others when you walk in the middle ground.
Considering the all important fact, that God will not co-exist with darkness, understand that when you step out from the light of truth, you are stepping into a darkness that you haven’t yet recognized. I’d venture to say it also takes a whole lot of pride to stand in the middle ground. Because you look over at the side of falsehood, and surely, you are better than they. You look back at the camp called truth, and they seem to not have the love and acceptance of the middle ground. Surely, the middle ground is better than that. Unfortunately, we all know what happens to those filled with pride.
It’s time for the middle ground to be the empty acreage. For far too long, it’s been the most occupied place on earth! Don’t lose the truth you know by stepping in the middle ground. Stay out of the middle ground!
If it looks evil, when then guess what, it’s evil. If it doesn’t align itself with truth from the word of God, well then it’s falsehood. If it dabbles in sinfulness….well then doggone it, it just isn’t on the side of truth. There’s so much more at stake than acceptance and love. There’s so much more ahead that requires we stand firmly on the side of truth and that the boundary between truth and the middle ground is abundantly clear.
“Those who keep their heads on straight will teach the crowds right from wrong by their example. They’ll be put to severe testing for a season; some killed, some burned, some exiled, some robbed. When the testing is intense, they’ll get some help, but not much. Many of the helpers will be halfhearted at best. The testing will refine, cleanse, and purify those who keep their heads on straight and stay true, for there is still more to come. Daniel 11:33 (The Message)
With every move you make, look at the boundaries. Are you in the middle ground looking back at the truth or standing in the light of the truth itself?