You know what they say about sitting on the fence, especially if it’s a picket fence.
Nothing is accomplished on the fence. Oh, you might do some fancy thinking while there, but you have to get off the fence to put your thinking into practice.
This is, of course, age-old advice. It goes with get off the bench and get in the game. Both of these old sayings urge us to action, but the fence takes on greater significance because it implies a further choice.
It is from the fence that we can see both sides, both green and in need of mowing. It is from the fence that we see alternate options. And, it is from our view on the fence that we should understand that life moves on while we sit.
It may feel nice to contemplate life for a while–it might even be wise to distil your options, but eventually you must get off the fence. The longer you sit, the more life passes you by. Or put another way, the longer you sit, the more you miss.
This is certainly true in this life and it also plays out between flesh and spirit. We live in a culture of little faith, where most people have shunned a spiritual life in favour of a material life. There are a few, a very few, who live a spiritual life and shun the world. But, a great number of those who call themselves Christian are, in fact, sitting on the fence.
Dangling one leg in the world and the other in the spirit will give you the benefit of neither. You simply cannot gather the riches of either side while perched in between. It is a lose-lose situation.
I know this first hand. For most of my life I chased the Holy Grail of success, with wealth rising and falling like the tide. It was late in life that I found the unique joy of faith. Perhaps it is because I spent so much unfulfilling time in the material world that I committed myself to faith; that I jumped over that fence and rushed to gather as much spiritual wisdom as my years would allow.
But over the last five months I found myself back on the fence, not perched between world and faith, but divided between two churches. I spent nearly six years as Pastor of Debert Baptist Church and over the last five months I took on the challenge of building a new church at the Cineplex theatre.
It is not unusual for a pastor to serve more than one church, but in this case the churches are not associated. In fact, they are not even similar. When associated, you work out a complementary schedule, but in this case the two were competing for my time and attention on Sunday morning.
You cannot serve two masters and I had to get off the fence. And so it is that I conclude my ministry in Debert and embark full tilt on the new calling in Millbrook.
That is just a personal example of how easy it is to find yourself on a fence, to find yourself viewing the game but not being in the game. Watching is not participating. Viewing is not doing, and we are called to do. As Christians, we are called to action and far too many of God’s children are just sitting.
Jumping off the fence is a very great challenge. You may fall and you may choose the wrong side on which to fall. But the beauty of living a life of faith is the understanding that we come from the fallen. We fall and we get back up, learning each time from the process, ever improving, ever strengthening.
Falling is OK, it is part of doing. Sitting on the fence–that is just painful.
Bill Martin is Points Leader at Points of Hope Church at the Cineplex Theatre in Millbrook. He teaches: People are not looking for a new definition of Christianity, they are looking for a demonstration of it.