My house is old, just over a century, which is ancient for Kansas. Like any other old house, it has eccentricities, but the most recent quirk it threw at us was the shower valve. I’m not sure on the whole story, but suffice it to say, we lost the cold water in the shower.
Ever been in a shower with no cold water? It makes you feel like a lobster.
Anyhoo. My handy dad figured out how to fix it (looks like our shower faucet/valve may pre-date 1960, though) so that we had both hot and cold water in the shower. The problem? Well, now if you turn the knob all the way to COLD, the water is cold, and if you turn the knob all the way to HOT, it’s lukewarm. The really hot water, which is what I need, is now in the middle between HOT and COLD.
That got me thinking: It’s kind of like life.
Today’s verses are 2 Samuel 23:11-12.
Next in rank was Shammah son of Agee from Harar. One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils. The Israelite army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the Lord brought about a great victory.
This passage comes out of a large section of Scripture that details a group of warriors called David’s Mighty Men. They were the guys in King David’s army who were the best of the best, and we’re fortunate to have a list of them.
This guy, Shammah? Talk about hardcore. The dude stood his ground in a bean field and fought off an entire army of bad guys. But what really caught my eye this morning is that he stood “in the middle of the field.” His comrades ran off in one direction, and the Philistines came from the other direction. He was in the middle.
Normally, I don’t like middle ground. The concept of middle ground is lukewarm or indecisive. It’s where people who can’t make up their minds go to stew. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes the middle ground is where you need to stand if you want the truth.
On one side, you’ll have one kind of crazy people who support really awful ideas about faith or politics or work ethic. On the other side, you’ll have another kind of crazy person who holds the complete, extreme opposite opinions. And then there’s you—stuck in the middle. But are you really stuck? Or are you just standing your ground between two extreme opinions that have taken their own arguments too far?
Our world is full of extremes, but personally I’ve never found much use for them. They’re usually just too extreme. The way I see it, there are extremes and there are absolutes. The absolutes don’t change, but the extremes usually need to.
Like my shower. One side is so extremely cold, you can’t use it. The other side is so extremely lukewarm, it’s not even comfortable to stand in. The nice, relaxing hot water is in the middle.
A bad example? On one side, you’ve got folks who believe women shouldn’t wear pants because they’re immodest, so for that crowd, a woman should only wear skirts and dresses. Then, on the other side, you’ve got folks who believe a woman can wear whatever the heck she wants, so for that crowd, a woman can prance around practically naked. But which one is true? Which perspective is biblical?
Neither of them!
There’s no biblical statement that a woman can or can’t wear something, but the Bible does say to be modest. Modesty is a heart attitude, and if you have a modest attitude, your clothes will be modest, whether you’re wearing skirts or dresses or pants or even a bathing suit. It isn’t one answer or the other answer. It’s somewhere in the middle.
Following Jesus isn’t siding with a group of extremists. Following Jesus is having the wisdom to hear both sides of an argument and having the courage to choose the middle road. Jesus walked the line between the religious leaders of His day and the godless masses who did what they wanted. That doesn’t mean He dipped His toes into sin. That doesn’t mean He compromised His beliefs.
But He showed us that religion isn’t the answer and neither is living for yourself. A life lived for God, by following the truth of the Bible, is the only life that works.
The middle ground isn’t always indecisive. It’s not always a place you get stuck. Sometimes the middle ground is where you need to make your stand.