In Between

Find comfort in the In Between,

The Gray, the dreaded Middle Scene.

In a world of black and white,

As would-be martyrs seek a fight,

Take the third, less-traveled Way

And refuse their game to play.

This does not mean you do not choose.

With neutral stance, the “lessers” lose.

It simply means we pick our sides

Not based on what the world decides,

But based on love and what will will heal

And what will make the Kingdom real.

“They” would have us draw our lines

In ways that promote their designs.

How different would this wide world be

If we decided to break free?

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Side

Looking to the Left and Right,

I realize neither has it right.

Whether health or liberty,

College or economy,

Military, race, or sex

Their views and words just don’t reflect

The truth in all they grouse about.

It’s time we went a different route.

Stop choosing teams like it’s a game

Or things will end up just the same.

Get to know the needs of all,

Lest in selfishness we fall.

Seek to find the middle way

And balance freedom with fair play.

Instead of easing suffering,

Take steps so it stops happening.

Instead of blaming one another,

Try to get to know each other.

Every feeling, every stance

Comes from a person’s circumstance.

Try on one another’s shoes

‘Cause there’s too much we stand to lose

For being stubborn, dimmed by pride.

It’s time we crafted our own side.

A Question of Sides

Once when Joshua was by Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing before him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?” He replied, “Neither; but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” Joshua 5:13-14, NRSV

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of always having to have a “stance.” Our world is all about finding ways to divide us, usually over issues that provoke our most intense emotional responses. Pro-choice, pro-life, Republican, Democrat, this or that religion, pro-closed borders, pro-immigration reform, pro-gun, anti-gun, cat people, dog people, and the list just goes on and on and on.

It’s exhausting. There is always someone getting angry, upset, or offended. Sometimes, that’s just life, but it’s also the case that the sharp divisions in our society have left everyone’s nerves exposed.

So what are we to do?

I guess we could keep digging our heels in, willing to fall on whatever sword our “camp” chooses for us. We could keep treating one another as either ally or enemy, unable to discuss the deepest issues of human existence because to do so would cause untold relational damage.

Or…

We could not.

Looking to the passage from Joshua’s story, we see a situation in which he puts to God the question we all face. “Are you one of us, or one of our adversaries?” The divine answer is, “Yeah, man! Your side! Definitely!”

Wait…

God’s answer is actually that the Divine is neither of the Israelites nor of their adversaries. God is on God’s side, the side of mercy, justice, and transformation. So I guess the question is whether or not we who claim to be disciples are on that same side…

More often than not, we choose to be on a path other than God’s. In fact, whenever we draw our lines in the sand over and against the other people in this world that God created, we leave the path of righteousness. But good news!

There is an alternative.

Now, the world tells us there isn’t. We MUST decide, otherwise we are wishy-washy, and the issues that follow are our fault. This isn’t true, though.

To choose God’s side is freedom. We are free to hold a variety of positions that put people first, and not our little tribes. We are at liberty to honor one another (and God) with our choices rather than dismissing or demonizing each other.

This doesn’t mean we don’t stand for something. To honor each other and the life we share is not a timid, neutral stance. It’s also not self-glorifying or “sexy,” full of hashtags, angry articles, and half-truths.

I know it’s ironic for me to write a critique of having to pick sides while offering another one, but hey… That’s just how it’s going to have to be. But the difference here is that God’s side aligns us with the welfare and concerns of all people, not just those in our respective “clans,” and I feel like that is an important distiction.

I pray you will choose the third way, rather than the two sides always being peddled by the world. It’s not an easy path, and it won’t make you famous, but I guarantee it can change the world.

Peace be with you!