David Arnold likes living in the middle.
The construction worker owns a house that actually sits in the median of U.S. Highway 460 in Bedford County, Va. The six-room house was once beside the highway, but when two new lanes were added, they were placed on the other side of the house, leaving Arnold’s acre in the middle.
He likes it that way. One driveway in the front of the house leads to the eastbound lanes. A driveway in the back goes to the westbound lanes. Arnold can easily go either way. Mostly, he just enjoys being in the middle and watching the traffic whiz by.
Some people are like that religiously. They want to live their entire life in the median between faith in God and denial. They emphatically don’t want to be seen as a religious fanatic, but they also would never deny God either. So, on a survey, they self-identify as believers, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference in their lives. It’s not that they live bad lives (as we would see it), but they don’t go to church much, don’t participate in the life of a faith community, and keep their beliefs to themselves. Life in the middle. Everybody is happy.
Well, not quite everybody. God isn’t.
“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters,” Jesus said (Matthew 12: 30). “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God,” James adds (James 4: 4). When there is a war raging around you, you really must choose a side. It’s like the farmer who lived on the Mason-Dixon Line during the Civil War. He wanted to remain neutral so he flew both the Union and Confederate flags on his property. He got shot at from both sides.
We live in a spiritual war and it simply won’t work to try to live in the median. God allows no middle ground. He says that the median does not exist. Either we are whole-heartedly with him, or he considers us his enemy. We are either on his side to be part of the solution, or we are part of the problem.
David Arnold has easy access to the highway. He can choose to go either way. We have easy access, too. But, we do have to choose. It’s either God’s way or the wrong way.
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church of Christ, Americus.