Children bouncing up and down on a teeter totter picture well the differing expressions of those who live the Christian life.
On the upside of the teeter totter are those who proclaim the “Come to Jesus and get saved so you can go to heaven” belief. To them, a ticket to eternal heavenly bliss is all that matters. In the meanwhile, let’s just live the way we used to, partying it up and following the self-centered desires of our hearts. We are “In,” so it doesn’t matter if we wear our neckline low and hemline high. Everyone else is forgetting those prudish, Victorian beliefs of staying apart until marriage. What nonsense! What difference does it make if we sleep with someone first? Really, now. How old-fashioned!
On the downside of that teeter totter are the persons who believe that being a Christian means religiously following the established regulations and moral code, of doing “right,” whatever their particular congregation espouses as right behavior. Nothing is as insufferable as the uptight, prudish Christian with his long nose in everyone’s business, while telling us of all the laws and rules we must now follow. His family is “perfect,” his children well behaved. He knows the ways things should be done in the church, the home, the nation.
Yet, he knows nothing of the freedom of spirit, the joy of full acceptance. “This is the way; walk ye in it,” is his byword. He may have at one time known and experienced the love of God, but following the rule book grew into a serious pursuit until it became all he knows. The proper outward actions became synonymous with the central truth of the faith – and was sufficient for life.
In between the rather joy-less rule follower and the hedonist on the other end of the balancing board are the ones sitting in the middle: persons who proclaim “Freedom! We have been forgiven of all our sin guilt so now we are free. Therefore, relax.” They try to avoid both extremes as they begin to learn more through Bible Study and church attendance. They will enjoy the ball games, an occasional glass of wine and take in a concert on occasion even if it means wearing ear plugs. They clean up their act a bit. The swearing goes and those who have lived together find their way to the altar. They begin to pick up some of the rules, seeing them in a new light, but reject some others which do not fit their interpretation of Freedom!
None of the three can understand why his witness has been unsuccessful. He certainly can see why the other two groups do not represent the faith well, but his own inability puzzles him. Something is wrong here, yes.