Matthew 12:30-37 (MSG):
30 “This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.
31-32 “There’s nothing done or said that can’t be forgiven. But if you deliberately persist in your slanders against God’s Spirit, you are repudiating the very One who forgives. If you reject the Son of Man out of some misunderstanding, the Holy Spirit can forgive you, but when you reject the Holy Spirit, you’re sawing off the branch on which you’re sitting, severing by your own perversity all connection with the One who forgives.
33 “If you grow a healthy tree, you’ll pick healthy fruit. If you grow a diseased tree, you’ll pick worm-eaten fruit. The fruit tells you about the tree.
34-37 “You have minds like a snake pit! How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.”
Last night, before I went to bed at 4:30 a.m., I opened my Bible and started where I had left off in Matthew. (I am reading through the New Testament in the Message version, so it gives me a fresh look on things ive heard all my life. There’s so much that comes alive to me that I can only read one story at a time.) So I started reading in Matthew 12 and came to a section called “No Neutral Ground.” Well I read this and verses 22-29 weren’t really just coming alive, and then I came to Matthew 12:30–” This is war, and there is no neutral ground. If you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy; if you’re not helping, you’re making things worse.” I prayed that these words would come alive to my life, that I would be able to apply what I read to my personal journey. As I laid in bed before I fell asleep, I was praying that what I had just read would really just click with me…that I wouldnt shove off the message onto someone else’s life or hope that it would apply later on in my own life….I just kept praying that I would really grasp it for myself and no one else. As I was drifting off to sleep, this is what ran through my head…
The title of this section in The Message is “No Neutral Ground.” Thats the very concept of verse 30. What is neutral? What do I think of when I hear the word neutral? Then my head started spouting off all of these different things.
* The first thing I thought of was a black and white scale. Neutral would be gray. How boring….yuck.
* What about all colors in general? Neutral colors are muted, dirty, and for most things, pretty ugly.
* I guess becoming neutral is the whole point of neutering a cat…its not a male or female anymore..its neutral. Boo. Thats definitely a downer of life.
* Or then you have chemistry, where a chemical is neither an acid or base…its just neutral. I’m sure they have some purpose, but I sure dont know what.
* Then you have physics, where an object that has no positive or negative attraction is neutral. That sounds pretty lame.
* Or then you have a cup of coffee that is neutral temperature. I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but I know that if I order a hot beverage from Starbucks, it had better be hot. Neutral is just plain disgusting. Either be hot or cold, not lukewarm. (Hmmm that sounds a little too familiar.)
* And I definitely know that I hated it when my best friend, Megan, would throw my little red cavalier into neutral when we were sitting at a stoplight. Talk about freakout mode..when your car doesnt start driving down the road, but instead just revs up the engine when you hit the gas…yeah not cool. Especially in the middle of an intersection!!
Now, dont get me wrong, I’m sure that there are many important roles that the neutrals serve in life…but right now, I can’t think of many. They just dont seem all that attractive, or exciting. Dictionary.com’s definition of ” neutral ” is: “Not aligned with, supporting, or favoring either side in a war, dispute, or contest. Belonging to neither kind; not one thing or the other.” How boring!! Not belonging? Not aligned? Boo. Talk about a lack of excitement. All this talk about neutrals, and im just not seeing what is so appealing about it. So then why, as “a Christian,” did I find the neutral ground so attractive? Why, for so long, have I just been okay with living a neutral life..living “on the fence,” some might call it. Why do I think the most appealing place to be is having a little bit of this, a little bit of that? Can’t I learn from life that when you mix two opposites, you either get chaos or boredom? What’s so amazing about the neutral ground? I already know about the verse in Revelations that talks about being either hot or cold. But Matthew 10:30 takes it to another level. He says if I’m not on His side, then I’m the enemy. “Woah, wait God!! Thats not fair!! I’m not the enemy!! I’m… uh… err… ummm… well… you see…. uh… errr…..” Ouch. Yeah, its that clear. As much as I might think I’m just going through life in neutral….the truth is, there is no neutral ground.
I’m thankful I came to realize that this summer. I’m glad that I had a best friend who told me right before I did this internship, “If you’re going to be a Christian, then be a Christian….if you’re not, then quit playing games.” You see, whats really the point of living in the middle?? I mean, if the definition of neutral is to not belong…do I want that? No!! I DO want to belong! I want to be a part of a cause worth fighting for. I want to live that adventure, and that excitement…even that danger…because the cause that I fight for, is a cause to die for. If I’m living a “neutral Christian” life, then am I even on the winning side? Am I fighting the battles? Will I get to savor the glory in the victory dance? If I’m not on His side, I’m the enemy. Ouch. See….the truth is, there is no neutral ground. I’m fighting a battle, alright…I’m either fighting for God with my passion, or I’m fighting with the enemy with my lack of motivation, my selfishness, blah blah blah. Ouch. I mean, if people really got this, maybe…just maybe, Christianity wouldnt have the image it does today. Yeah, my name would have to be on that list of people who gave it a bad name, but praise God….I’ve been born again! He’s made me a new creation!
The facts are clear. If I’m going to be a Christian, BE A CHRISTIAN. If I’m not…then stop playing games. I cant be a Christian and dwell in the city of mediocricy…I cant have a little this, have a little that and truly be blessed. I cant have my cake and eat it too. Its going to take sacrifice, heck yes it will. But doesnt every warrior live a life of sacrifice…fighting for the heart of his king? Absolutely. In the words of Stesha: “Crap or get off the pot.” If I’m going to be a Christian, then do it. If I’m just sitting there saying I will, but I’m not….then I might as well get off the pot. CRAP OR GET OFF THE POT. If I’m not willing to sacrifice my whole life, and everything in it, to the cause of Christ….then I’ve gotta stop claiming Christ as my king, cuz arent I really just serving myself? Stop claiming the title of Christian, cuz I’m just hurting the ones who are truly following Christ. In the words of Christ, “If youre not helping, [Angie], you’re making things worse.”
Thank you, Father, for reminding me of where I was…and where I never want to return. Thank you for the call to fight this battle, for pulling me out of the neutral state of not belonging (or actually, from fighting for the enemy)…and for giving me a sense of purpose in this life, to fight for the heart of my King. Thank you for the adventure and the passion and the excitement and the intensity of fighting this battle, because you’ve truly transformed my life into a warrior for You. Let me never consider taking the shortcut home….give me strength in times of fear and weakness as I journey a dangerous road that You’ve called me to follow. Thank you for calling me out of meaninglessness into a life with purpose. Thank you for a battle that You’ve already won. Your Son died so that you could write it down in the universal pages of eternity: God wins. Thank you for this journey…thank you for the broken path that led me straight to You. Let me now fight for the heart of my King. I’m in love with you, and I’ll do whatever it takes to glorify You. Amen.