The set-up is straight forward. I give one extreme, I give the opposite extreme, you agree that they are extreme and we agree that we should shift from them both and find the middle ground.
That is applied to a number of arguments. In a lot of cases, it makes sense. It works. It’s applicable. It certainly is desirable. In most cases.
But not all.
Following Jesus is not a middle of the road, safe option for living. Declaring the only way to God is through Jesus is understandably considered a fairly extreme and intolerant position to hold. Suggesting there is objective truth to be discovered only through Jesus is also considered to be a somewhat irrational and extreme position to take.
Living out selfless, sacrificial love in a selfish, greedy world is an extreme position to take. The believers of the early church were not persecuted because they took an easy, safe, middle of the road expression of life. The declaration and demonstration of Jesus is Lord was an affront to religious, civil and political entities around that world. The refusal to yield or in anyway compromise that stance brought with it the strong and brutal consequences. This was exactly because it was an extreme way of defying the status quo – just that this extreme was not expressed in physical violence or rabid anti-establishment sentiment.
This extreme was to point to the King who was God in the flesh who lived, loved, suffered, died and rose from the dead to offer the way to the Kingdom. Not the accepted kingdom of the day. Not the flex of the military might. But the righteous rule of King Jesus whose rule is eternal and whose stretch is universal.
In a society that celebrates tolerance, reason and being rational about things (though conveniently neglects these when its own assumptions are challenged), the claims of the Kingdom do not tick all the boxes. In a society that wants to believes in mixing and matching and suiting yourself, doing what’s pleasing in your own eyes as fine, the exacting nature of God’s rule is repulsive.
There is no middle ground to find in this. The ministry of reconciliation sees bridge-builders establishing routes that take people out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. It is from one to another. It is not an effort at reaching and enjoying and staying in common ground. It is not a bid to compromise and live at ease in a middle way. The expression of Christ-loving people maybe about peace, and the manners maybe about humility and meekness, but the desired outcome remains the same. That is that those who witness our lives will have a divine encounter that forever changes their perspective.
Such a desire would be considered unreasonable, irrational, absurd, intolerant, dangerous and crazy. Such a desire would rightly be considered a threat to the status quo. As a result those who subscribe to such a position should not hope for a quaint arrangement with the status quo, as our very mission counters it, subverts it, turns the whole thing upside down and says Jesus rules.
That’s not a middle ground position – but it is a holy ground position.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden