Did I ever tell you about the young Zoad?
Who came to a sign at the fork of the road?
He looked one way and the other way too -
the Zoad had to make up his mind what to do.
Well, the Zoad scratched his head, and his chin, and his pants.
And he said to himself, "I’ll be taking a chance.
If I go to Place One, that place may be hot
So how will I know if I like it or not.
On the other hand, though, I’ll feel such a fool
If I go to Place Two and find it’s too cool
In that case I may catch a chill and turn blue.
So Place One may be best and not Place Two.
Play safe," cried the Zoad, "I’ll play safe, I’m no dunce.
I’ll simply start off to both places at once."
And that’s how the Zoad who would not take a chance
Went no place at all with a split in his pants.
Fence sitters, skeptics, doubters… There are a number of ways people resist making a commitment to Christ: They deny the obvious, calling evil good and good evil. They put a decision off declaring they aren’t convinced and need more proof Jesus is who he says he is. Others rely on either their own strength/logic or their own goodness. Anything short of a full commitment to Christ is like walking around with a split in your pants.
Most of the crowd is amazed. They accept the obvious. I am bewildered why the whole world does not see the amazing Jesus. John 3:16 is an awesome truth that God loves us so much he sent Jesus Christ into the world to forgive our sins so we can live forever. Jesus has been with the disciples three years, he has sent them to be a witness for him. They had problems. Now he takes a next step of showing them the way to overcome evil is to make a full commitment to him….It is good for all of us, from time to time, to examine our commitment to Christ. Jesus puts it in black and white terms: You either believe or you don’t believe in Jesus Christ! Jesus is speaking to the fence sitters and skeptics.
Some people reject Christ by denying the obvious. Some in the crowd came to this conclusion: READ Luke 11:15. That makes no sense. The response of people to the obvious confuses me. Isaiah spoke about those who twist reality: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness!” (Isaiah 5:20).
It seems obviously good that the man no longer has a demon. For many it is not obvious. Right now I am wondering if I am nuts because it seems obvious the Orlando Massacre is one more example of Radical Islam destroying those who disagree with them. Somehow that is not the national conversation. A few months ago the same thing happened in the Roseburg, OR shooting in which the guy explicitly made it about faith in Jesus Christ as he killed those that were willing to declare their faith. But in a world of opposites, the powers that be managed to deny reality. A man no longer with a demon is obviously amazing. Isn’t it? I am astounded more people do NOT see the obvious, but we are in a world of denial. We are in denial that we are sinners by nature. We are in denial there is wrong and right. Many people don’t believe in evil.
If you study other religions, there is a pattern: Almost all do something with Jesus. All find a way to deny the deity of Christ. Most make him out to be a good man, a prophet, or a wise person; many admire Jesus, ~ even the atheists I know like Jesus ~ , but they explain the fullness of Christ away, denying he died on the cross to forgive sins. I am a simple guy that does my best to accept the obvious: Jesus Christ is God, he came in the flesh, he died for my sins, he offers his gift of salvation to all who will accept. Much of being a Christian is simply accepting the obvious.
Some people put off a full commitment to Christ by requiring more proof: READ Luke 11:16. What else did they still need? Many people in today’s world are holding back in fully embracing Christ. Maybe it’s fear. Some have stories of being hurt in the past so they reject the church; while there is a lot of chatter about how going to church is not to be equated with faith, the truth is that a life of discipleship is often sacrificed by most who reject the church. Isn’t that obvious?
There are many over thinkers in our world waiting for one more sign from God… one more amazing answer to prayer, one more convincing proof… perhaps some of you right now are too passive in your commitment to Christ. Maybe you don’t want to be out of step with society. Maybe you think living for Christ part-time is good enough because in some segments of your life being a Christian is not convenient.
The message of this scripture is that there is no such thing as a part time follower of Jesus Christ. That works in sports… I haven’t watched the Mariners since the amazing 1995 (?) season, and if they are ever amazing again I may join the band-wagon… but part time Christianity doesn’t work. Right is right and is not determined by popularity or political correctness. Wrong is wrong even if everybody is wrong. Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.
Many people reject Christ because they think they have enough strength or they are smart enough to find fulfillment on their own. That’s what the parable of the strong man is about in Luke 11:21-22. READ. If you try to make sense of this world by depending on your own strength, your own skills, your house will sooner or later be overpowered and your world will come crashing down. Much of the world accepts as fully logical the common wisdom: “If you can’t depend on yourself you can’t depend on anyone.” Newsflash! You can’t even depend on yourself! Your strength will fail…you will run out of ability…
Luke 11:24-26 is another strategy to attempt to half follow Jesus. It is a story about a person who tries to earn his salvation by being good. READ. The person is tormented by an evil spirit. The evil spirit decides to leave. While the evil spirit is gone, the man tries morality. After being gone for a time the evil spirit remembers possessing this man is better than traveling in the wastelands of the spirit world. The evil spirit finds the house swept and put in order. I.e. he tried to be a good person.
Today many people think that they can be on the side of God by obeying a set of rules, morals, rights and wrongs ~ the notion that by being good enough, one can gain a right standing with God.
The house being put in order means nothing to an evil spirit. Notice when the evil spirit left, the man did not invite God into his heart, he simply swept up the house, i.e. tried to be a good moral person. Being good does not make our lives perfect. The moral person has convinced himself he can access God by his own goodness. The truth: A person can make his way to death and destruction by feeling good about themselves, their life, and their set of standards. Their house can be swept and put in order, but if it remains empty, even though is seems clean, the house is open for destruction.
Jesus answer to the skeptics in the crowd is to pronounce it is time to make a decision: Jesus is Lord or he is not. This is a call to get off the fence and examine your own heart: READ Luke 11:17-20. When it comes to a commitment to Christ it is a black and white world. No fence sitting. No living in contradictory compartments in which you live by Christian values in this world but you become a different person with different values in another setting. It would be like being a part-time husband or a part-time wife, you make a commitment and you must be 100% faithful at all times, in the things you say and the things you do. You cannot set off in two directions at once, or you will end up going nowhere at all with a split in your pants.
Jesus Christ says no fence sitters in the kingdom. No such thing as a part time commitment to Christ. Years ago when I was a student at Fuller Seminary, while there were 80 denominations represented, most of them were in the non-charismatic camp. Students are naturally curious as we try to figure out what is right and wrong, trying to understand people who think differently. One of the professors, a popular teacher, had a bent towards the things of the Holy Spirit. Talking about the charismatic traditions he posed a question: “Do you want to know what a charismatic person is like?” and he went on to answer his own question. “Don’t go to a worship service and watch them speak in tongues, or lift their hands in praise, or dance in the aisles. Follow them to their homes and into the stores. See how they interact with their families, their character, the people in their world.” Dr. Anderson’s point was that it is the whole life that matters to determine the character of a person and their Christian commitment.
There is no such thing as a part time commitment to Christ. You are fooling yourself if you think sitting on the fence is the best of both worlds. Choose the path of Christ. The way of Christ is obvious, even though many people proclaim it is not obvious as they declare good to be evil. You do not need more proof, you will never be strong enough or good enough to attain a right relationship with God. Accept the obvious. Fully commit yourself to Christ, inviting him into your heart to transform your world.