pendulum 4Spiritually, the church’s pendulum seems at times to swing from one extreme to the other…

…from excess to denial and the enemy of our souls is equally pleased with either.

Attentive and centered is what unnerves him.

Perhaps two decades ago, I spent a year studying the Garden of Eden and the Fall. The study is too long to share here, but one of the clarion principles that emerged from the study was that darkness favors extremes.

Consider, for example, our relationship with food. In the garden, “pleasing to the eyes” trees bore fruit that was “good.” (Gen 3.9, 16) Attentive and centered, we delighted and were nourished by food that looked good, tasted good, and was good.

As the shadow of sin fell, centered became less attractive. In our desire for control, we edged toward extremes because they appeared more definable. And the pendulum swung…from excess (e.g., gluttony, wastefulness) all the way on over to denial (e.g., anorexia, starvation).

Anywhere but center.

Granted, attentive and centered is strenuous. It requires us to lean upon God’s constant presence above our man-made (and easily weaponized) lists. It necessitates that we listen to His Spirit which feels a bit like climbing Mount Everest in our noise-sick age. It demands dependance upon God and, in general, we prefer reliance upon self.

Anywhere but center.

And the reason these thoughts are swirling about in my mind with a touch of fire today is because I continue to see the toxic fruit of our refusal to be attentive and centered with regards to the use of our voice as the body of Christ. We have a tendency to either scream or be silent.

Anywhere but center.

Not that long ago, our extreme of excess in the use of our voice was called “bible bashing.” We used our voice without listening very well to His (or others’) voice. And today we are on the far, far, far side of the pendulum swing too afraid of being criticized or ostracized to open our mouths and share God’s truth in love.

Anywhere but center.pendulum 2

In the same way that centered is not a synonym for neutral, attentive is not a synonym for passive. To live attentive and centered means to live alert to His presence and available to His direction.

May we never forget: the enemy is evangelistic. Our passivity is his gift. Our extremes are his catalyst.

 

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