In The Middle

   by Jeannette Haley

     Once upon a time there was a certain very strange creature that no one in the Middle Ville could adequately describe. Some said it was mostly a donkey. Others declared it was part elephant. Nobody could decide exactly just what it was, but everyone knew that its name was Mugwump.

      The elusive Mugwump didn’t like the bright light of day, nor did he much care for the darkness of night. Thus he was rarely seen except when the sky overhead was gray. Some villagers said he appeared just before sunrise—others said just before sunset.

      Many said that he was happier in the winter cold. Others loudly disagreed, and declared that he definitely relished hot weather.

      A few curious people tried to track Mugwump to discover where he lived. After awhile, the villagers began to argue with one another about the creature’s home and habits. Some insisted that Mugwump liked to live among the trees. Others declared that he definitely preferred the swamp lands. Of course, this was the result of Mugwump’s inconsistent habits in his habitat.

      The villagers liked to gather in the local sports bar and grill to discuss where Mugwump came from. Some held to the belief that he was truly a local “good old boy.” After all, he possessed a strange sort of magnetism that bamboozled people. Others argued that he wasn’t as great as he made himself out to be, and he could be dangerous. After all, such a mysterious creature might possibly pose a threat to the village people.

      Heated arguments also arose over Mugwump’s diet. Some insisted that he was a vegetarian, while others were adamant that he was a lover of meat.

      Finally, in order to settle the argument, it was decided to appoint a committee to head up a thorough investigation into the life of Mugwump. The cost of this project nearly bankrupt the village, but the matter had to be settled one way or the other. Two teams were appointed to carefully track and take note of everything Mugwump did—one team during the day, and the other team during the night.

      At last, after many months of tedious work, the teams gathered to compare notes. The entire village turned out to hear the results with the hope that they could at last have a concrete definition of this disturbing creature.

      The daylight team was the first to reveal their findings. Their summary shocked the people. It read, “We have made a conscientious and thorough investigation into the daylight habits and motivations of Mugwump and have come to the conclusion that he is not available to track and study in the daylight.” The people all moaned at hearing this, and looked to the night team for an answer. They likewise read their report to all the people. “We have given the best efforts possible to discover and document the nighttime habits of Mugwump to determine just what his goals and intentions are, and have come to the conclusion that Mugwump is not available to be studied in the night.” All the peopled groaned at hearing this news. What, then, would properly identify Mugwump?

      All the people stood in shocked silence and dismay. Was there no one who could solve the mystery of Mugwump? Then, suddenly the voice of a young lad rang out. “I know! I know! Do not be sad and in despair! I can explain Mugwump to you.” But, the people ignored him. What could an inexperienced kid possibly know about such a mysterious and confusing creature?

      “Give me one minute, and I will explain it to you,” he said as he stood on the steps of the town hall.

      “Well,” the old mayor said, “Let’s hear what he has to say, and then we can be done with it and go meet at the bar and grill.” So the people nodded and stood quietly to hear the youngster.

      He took a deep breath, and his voice rang out loud and clear. “This creature is a Mugwump, it’s plain for all to see. His mode of operation is what is called PC. One night he may be on the left, then on the right by day—this  is because his ideology has led him far astray. He munches on leaves and peas (the vegetarians to please). But, then he dreams of juicy steak and takes a break—to plan a barbeque! Can’t you see? How hard can it be? It’s plain to me! Mugwump is neither left nor right, nor is his life lived in the dark or light. He’s not awake, he’s not asleep, from reality and truth he’s in retreat. The swamp won’t do, the trees won’t work—right and wrong he’s chosen to shirk. He has no goal, he cannot think, his mind, you see, is all PC. PC regulation, and religiosity, he got his education in a liberal university. So, there you have it,” he explained with a grin, “ with his mug on one side and his wump on the other, he’s mediocre in the middle with no plan to be any other.”

      What did the village people do after they heard this? They met at the bar and grill to argue over whether they should elect Mugwump (who was now considered to be a genuine “good old boy”) to be their political leader, or whether he should be their religious leader. After all, with his vast experience in being politically correct, people could ignore truth and live in delusion. On the other hand, if he was their spiritual leader, people could ignore truth and live in delusion.

      Of course, either way, they’d have to find a way to silence that pesky, outspoken kid….and here ends our tale.

      The Bible teaches us that there is no middle ground with God. He is not  “politically correct” or “wishy-washy” and He doesn’t accept half-hearted, lukewarm responses from us either. Jesus warned the Laodicean church, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth” Revelation 3:15, 16. There was no comfortable, non-committal middle ground for these people and there is none for the true Church of our day. The call that Moses made in Exodus 32:26b, is still going out to all who will hear, “Who is on the LORD’S side? Let him come unto me…”  First the decision has to be made whose side we are on, then we have to act on that decision. To make no decision is a decision to not wholly follow the Lord by consecrating (setting aside) oneself to belong totally to God. Our footsteps follow our heart.

      The Apostle Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” Romans 12:1. The only way Christians can joyfully and freely give their bodies to the LORD to be a living sacrifice (that means all the time, day by day, come what may), in holiness (Christ in us, the hope of glory), acceptable to God (without compromise, filled with the Spirit) is through the love of God. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” Matthew 22:37. We must never forget, lest we be tempted to think highly of ourselves in this regard, that this is our “reasonable service.”

      Loving, believing, and obeying God is a choice—a decision that every person must make. God’s ways cannot be found in some “gray area” in between light and darkness. His ways are not confusing because His ways are truth. They are plain enough for a child to comprehend because they are simple, yet profound because they are living and eternal. God’s ways cannot be altered by the most powerful of men or angels. They will forever remain.

      God’s Word spells it out for us—the narrow road or the broad highway; life or death; heaven or hell; right or wrong; wise or foolish; awake or asleep; righteous or wicked; good or evil; spiritual or fleshly; moral or immoral; clean or unclean; bond or free; truth or lies; godly or satanic; saved or unsaved and so forth. The choices are simple, yet so many long to live with one foot in each world; that is, one in “spirituality” and one in the world. Reprobate minds who despise the God of the Bible and the Bible of God through the centuries have always sought to find a middle ground that would somehow appeal to the majority of people in order to gain control over their lives. This is what the “politically correct” movement is about today. It’s aim is to overthrow every absolute and usher in a man-centered, one-world politico-religion that makes everyone feel good about themselves.

      People who try to have the “best of both worlds,” are “middle of the road” mugwumps who take pride in their tolerance and so-called “intellectualism.” These are the “elites” among us described by Jude in verse 4, “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jude went on to explain in the following verse the end of such deceivers, “I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.”

      Paul warned the elders in Ephesus, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” Acts 20:29-31. “Perverse” in this verse means to distort, misinterpret, or corrupt.

      By distorting the Word of God (such as the new NIV and other so-called “versions” do) the Scriptures are easily misinterpreted which leads to a corrupt spin on truth, resulting in corruption in the lives of people who buy into it. No wonder Paul “commended” these people to God, for He is the only one who by His Spirit and truth can keep the souls of His people undefiled as they consecrate themselves to Him with all their hearts, so that He is able to sanctify them.

      Jesus said, “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” Luke 16:13. Therefore, sitting in the middle of the road results in road kill. Trying to balance on the fence means falling off on one side or the other. Isaiah puts forth the challenge: “How long halt ye between two opinions? If the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.” (See Isaiah 18:21.) There are no mugwumps in heaven.

      Who are you following today?