Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Riding the Fence

God through His faithful prophet Elijah, called His people, and said, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." (1 Kings 18:21)

Elijah accuses Israel of wavering between two opinions. Israel was trying to have it two ways at once. Israel was trying to serve God and Baal at the same time. Israel was trying to having an altar to God right beside an altar to Baal. Israel's policy here was one of tolerance: she was trying to tolerate two religions at the same time.

Elijah challenges Israel to make up her mind. Elijah challenges Israel to stop limping back and forth. Israel is told to stop her waffling and wavering and wiggling between two positions. Israel is challenged to make a choice. Israel is like a traveler on a journey. She has reached a fork in the road. She must now decide which way to go: whether to the left or the right.

I cannot help but notice that many people today are like Israel at Mount Carmel. The cry of postmodern thinking is that we must "tolerate" everything. Every "alternative lifestyle," worldview, or personal belief must be viewed as equally valid, we are told. The cardinal sin of our age is daring to offend someone else.

The result of this type of thinking is that no one seems to be courageous enough to take a stand for anything. We attempt to placate everyone and speak out of both sides of our mouth. No one seems to be confident in their beliefs or bold enough to take a firm position.

The devil loves this. Toleration is a ploy used by him to suck in the people of God. After all, who wants to be accused of intolerance? In today's world and culture, intolerance is the biggest and worst sin. But as Paul tells us, what connection is there between righteousness and wickedness, light and darkness, Christ and Belial? (2 Cor 6:14ff)

Although postmodern Americans tend to "hesitate between two opinions" there is some indication that people are now hungering for people who are bold enough to be "straight shooters." Whether or not you agree with these people, the popularity of Dr. Phil, Bill O'Reilly, and even Rosie O'Donnell demonstrates that we long for people to stop dancing around issues and "tell it how it is."

Christians should not be crass and tactless. We must always let our "speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person" (Colossians 4:6). This is a principle that many outspoken television hosts forget. However, while we are careful to speak with compassion we must also be bold and confident in our convictions.

So yes Elijah confronts us today with the same challenge he confronted Israel with: "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." What do you think? How are we being tempted and even willing more and more today to believe and practice toleration at the expense of truth?

For Christ,
Rob Prater

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