Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Are Middle-Grounders Lacking Conviction?

There were 13 girls in my 6th grade class - 6 "popular" girls (you all know the type, I'm sure) and 6 "outcasts" (be they nerds, band geeks, goth, emo, or just plain didn't fit in with group A). And then there was me. I got along great with both groups (or, some days, I got along horribly with both groups).

In high school, I had to take a test for one of my classes to determine if I was more democrat or more republican. I scored 50/50.

In college, and again a few years ago for work, I took an assessment to determine if I am right-brained or left-brained. I scored 50/50.

So, it probably shouldn't be any surprise that when it comes to many different areas in life, I can see both sides of the coin, and have a difficult time understanding the extremes some people have (which is actually a bit funny considering my entire emotional state is one gigantic pendulum swinging from one extreme to the next).

Tolerance (as an example)

For example... I read an article today regarding tolerance (in regards to sin/morals). So, allow me to use that as an example. I see the definition of tolerance as having a right-wing and left-wing approach (note - these wings have nothing to do with political wings in these examples - I'm just using the terms because they work).

If you asked a left-wing person what a right-wing person believes on the subject, he'd probably say those on the right hold a belief which is not tolerant at all. That  they would say "we love people... and because of this love it is our responsibility to tell them they're sinners, and to try to force them to see the error of their ways. We cannot be accepting of such behavior and/or people."

Now then, if you ask a right-wing what a left-wing would say? He'd probably say that the left wing person holds a belief of acceptance, not tolerance. That they would say "Jesus said we are to love everyone, regardless of their sin. Just because someone is a murderer, doesn't mean we shouldn't be understanding and accepting of this behavior. We should be accepting of such behavior and people."

The way someone walking in the middle sees it? When an adulteress (or prostitute?) was brought before Jesus with the guards saying they would stone her for her crimes, Jesus said two phrases which should be noted (he actually said 4, but these two are what I see as important): "“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”" and "“Then neither do I condemn you... Go now and leave your life of sin.”" (John 8:1-11)

Jesus does not simply accept her sin and say "yeah, go do whatever." He does point out that she has sinned. But he does not turn her away. He does not condemn her. And he does not allow others to condemn her. He holds to a combined left and right wing approach. 

Do Middle-Grounders Lack Conviction?

 I honestly cannot count how many times people have accused me of lacking conviction. They feel I have no true belief in anything. Why? Because I can see both sides. Because I can be both angry and forgiving. Now don't get me wrong... there are some things I feel very strongly about and refuse to see any other side of. Child abuse of any sort would be one of these. It is wrong, and I am highly judgmental of anyone who is abusive towards a child, whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, or sexually.

But there are many things I am "tolerant" of to a degree. Abortion - yes, I strongly believe it is wrong. Am I going to condemn a rape victim who got pregnant by her attacker for killing her unborn baby? No. Does this mean I lack conviction? I don't think so. I think it means that what I lack is the lack of compassion many people seem to have. I can disagree with her decision without making her feel worse than she already does. I can pray for her. I can hold her. None of this compassion means I lack conviction. And if it does? Well, then Jesus lacked conviction, too, when He wouldn't allow the adulteress to be stoned to death. 

Just because someone can be accepting of a person, and can understand all sides of an argument, does not make that person lacking in anything. 

Is God a Middle-Grounder, Lacking in Conviction? 

Our God made it rain fire and brimstone on sinners. And some of His most loved followers were insanely sinful men (i.e. David). He allows suffering to come to us, and wraps us in his comforting arms. He lays down the law, and forgives us for breaking it. He gave His Son to both live and die for us. He is the combined left and right winged approach in most everything. 

Would you say a God who offers forgiveness and love and grace to a sinner lacks conviction? Would you say that because He walks the middle ground, able to understand saints and sinners, able to love both saints and sinners - would you call our God one who lacks conviction? 

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