Neutrality, part one

I used to be a fence sitter. I was one almost my whole life, really. Fence sitters miss out on a few benefits but we also gain a lot of things. You don’t get to be passionately involved in a cause and you don’t get to develop the camaraderie with others who are passionate about that cause. That’s the thing you miss out on. What you gain is the ability to avoid conflict. If I’m never on one side or the other of any real issue, then I never have to come into conflict with opposition. You’re a democrat? Oh, well yeah, those are some good policies that could help the country. Good points you made there. Oh, and you’re a republican? Well, now that you say it that way, those are some good ideas too. I can see the points you’re making. You walk away having just nodded and agreed without saying or doing anything of substance.

I was an active fence sitter. That also means I was an active liar. I would sit and listen to someone say things I strongly disagreed with and just nod and mutter agreement so I could avoid having an argument or even a conversation that might turn into an argument. God’s really been all over me about how there’s no size when it comes to lies. Saying I ate just 2 cookies when I actually ate 4 is a lie the same way as saying I didn’t steal my neighbor’s TV while their TV is actually sitting in my room is a lie (I didn’t actually steal a TV, for the record). A lie is a lie, just like refusing to take a stance on something is taking a stance on something.

I really feel like doing some deep heart to heart stuff here today. I hope you guys don’t mind it, but this is just heavy on me to talk about. I used to try to be a really good person. This is before 2015, before I fully recommitted my life to Jesus and fully embraced Him as the Lord of my life. Before all that, I tried to be a really good person. I loved my family deeply. My best friend was sacred to me, I would die for him. I had this mission in life to spread a little joy wherever I went, to deliver something to people that they weren’t expecting. I’ve always been a big believer that a small show of kindness can go a long way. I loved holding doors for people, being extra friendly, smiling at people. It’s all basic stuff but it made me feel good doing it and I always hoped that maybe I was making a difference in someone’s life by doing that stuff. I never ventured into the darker side of life. I’ve never done drugs, never even seen drugs, and I’ve never even been drunk. No life of crime, I’ve never physically hurt anyone, never even been in a fight.

I thought I was a good person. But sometimes at night, an immense sadness would settle upon me. It was heavy, like it just crushed down on me. Sometimes it would last for days, like this cloud that hung above my head. I could never understand why it happened, because after all, wasn’t I a good person? I knew I was a little selfish, and deep down I knew that I needed to start praying and reading my Bible, but beyond that, I was a pretty good dude. I’d get up, be kind to people, love my family, love my best friend, and then at night, again that sadness would come. And with it was this emptiness, this terrible feeling like life was passing me by and I just wasn’t finding my purpose in it.

I was lost. For all my kindness, for all the love I thought I had for others, I was completely and totally lost. What’s worse is that in my quest to sit on the fence and not offend anyone and not come into conflict with anyone, I was setting myself against God. I was out in the world trying to push man made joy onto folks while doing whatever it took to never offend or disagree. I thought I was a lighthouse, providing a little light and guidance to the world around me. Turns out, I wasn’t anchored to anything, and while I may’ve been shining a light I wasn’t guiding anyone anywhere. I was just as lost as they were. But back then, I was pretty certain I was good, was definitely certain that I wasn’t bad. I knew that at the very least I was neutral.

The problem is, neutrality doesn’t really exist with God.

Before I explain that, I want to show you something cool the Bible does. In 1 and 2 Chronicles as well as 1 and 2 Kings, the Bible tells this sweeping and amazing account of the history of Israel and the breakaway nation of Judah. There’s a heavy focus on the kings of these countries, giving you an account of what took place during the reign of each king. It often does a cool thing when it introduces you to each of these kings. Before it tells you their story, it tells you what kind of a person they were. Here are some examples.

1 Kings 16:29-30 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. 30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him.

2 Chronicles 14:1-2 Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David. And Asa his son reigned in his place. In his days the land had rest for ten years. 2 And Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God.

Those are just two examples of many, but you get the point. Usually, when introducing you to the next king, the Bible informs us if they did evil or if they did good. But as I was studying, I wasn’t prepared for what one of these king’s descriptions said. Here the Bible is talking about Rehoboam, the king of Judah. He’s already been on the scene for a while here, but as it defines him as either doing good or evil it says something that challenged me.

2 Chronicles 12:14 And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.

Almost all of the other kings across Chronicles and Kings get a reason as to why they are evil. Almost always, this reason is that they’re worshiping other gods and sacrificing to them and setting up idols to them. But for Rehoboam, the reason given in the above verse has nothing to do with worshiping false gods or idols. His evil is plainly stated. He did not set his heart to seek the Lord.

When I read that, I wrote something down. I wrote: Unauthentic God following is a sin. We are either doing good or doing evil, there is no in between.

As I studied more and applied this to the person I used to be, it made me realize that when it comes to God, there is no neutrality. You can’t be a fence sitter with God because there is no fence in this situation. You’re either with Him, or you’re not.

This challenges me in a very real way, so I’m going to continue talking about it tomorrow. For now, let’s pray about this whole thing together.

PRAYER AND CLOSING

Father God, today I am just so thankful that I’m with you.  Writing this made me think back to those days when I was trying to do it all myself, when I was trying to manufacture my own joy and cobble together my own purpose.  There were some dark nights back then, Lord.  I didn’t understand them then but I do now.  Because no amount of human effort can replace the need for you in our lives.  There’s a saying I like, that we’re all born with a Jesus size hole in us.  Man I was deceived, because my hole wasn’t filled.  I have these memories of better days, of being on fire for you when I was a teenager, but I went ice cold after that.  I tried so hard to be a good person when what I really needed to be was a God person.  So my prayer today is for people who are in the same situation that I was.  I know there are people out there trying to do it on their own, trying to power through and make a difference and yet they’re haunted by that same sadness and emptiness that haunted me.  Reveal yourself to them, Lord.  Please, don’t leave them lost in the fog, don’t leave them thinking they’re okay when they’re not.  You pulled me back in and planted me on the solid rock, and I ask you to please do the same for others.  If I can be used in doing this, please use me, Lord.  I don’t want anybody to be so busy trying to be good that they miss you in the process.  Finding you is the whole point.  I love you, Jesus, and I thank you that in reality it’s you who finds us.  All we gotta do is allow it to happen.  I pray this in the precious name of Jesus, amen.

The week is off to a beautiful start, my friends.  Praise the name of God today and watch your circumstances change!  I love you all!

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