Stuck in the Middle

Recently, Senator Arlen Specter announced that he was switching sides to the Democrats. During his announcement, he talked about how he was in more and more of a disagreement with the Republicans as he felt they had gone to extremes, but he was going to still pursue being an independent thinker and not just a party-line voter for the Democrats. There have been many opinions on Senator Specter's move. From water-cooler chat, to the talking heads on the news dissecting the alliance change ad nauseum, Senator Specter has been picked apart bit by bit. Despite this, few have actually discussed Specter's claim that really it was the Republicans that left him and not him leaving the Republicans. I believe Senator Specter and I have a lot in common in that way.

Growing up in a Christian household, I was raised to believe a couple of core truths about Christianity: God created the world in six days, Moses parted the ocean, Jesus loved me and died on a cross to absolve my sins, and for the most part, it seemed that everyone who said they were Christian agreed with these types of statements. It wasn't until I was a sophomore in college that I learned that Christianity had groups labeled "conservatives" and "liberals." It was during a meeting at my campus ministry that one of my friends saw a book stuffed in my book bag that just happened to be a book by a more progressive author. "You know, you really shouldn't read that book, because he doesn't love Jesus." Too shocked from the accusation, I simply shook my head in agreement absolutely dumb-founded. For the next two years of my life, "they don't love Jesus" became the mantra of the Christians I spent my time with.

"Well of course someone who doesn't love Jesus would be seen with that person."

"I can't believe that pastor in the news! Why would he bow to the Dali Lama? He certainly doesn't love Jesus."

These statements always bothered me. Not because they were judging others, but because the things these people (who apparently didn't love Jesus) were doing didn't seem too terrible to me. I knew that the people I were with were considered "conservatives" and "fundamentalists." For the most part, it never really bothered me. It wasn't until I watched a documentary about a Fundamentalist Christian Camp that I became absolutely disgusted with the Fundamental Christians. I didn’t leave conservatism, conservatism had left me behind. I quit the campus ministry I was a part of and ran to the opposite extreme ever so ready to adopt every position the so called "liberal" Christians believe in.

Now that I spend my time with people who "don't love Jesus," I have found the liberal Christians have judgments as well. It was one evening with friends when two laughed about someone in a class defending doing daily Bible readings. "Can you believe that guy said that? What a fundy!" "Fundy" of course being a less than endearing term for a Fundamentalist Christian. Once again, I found myself unable to believe something like daily Bible readings were a counter-Christian activity. Once again, I found myself not being in the same chord with the people I was with and feeling very moderate, unsure of which camp I belong in if any.

I believe that God would like us to read the Bible regularly, but I also believe that God would like us to feed the hungry everyday as well. I believe that God would like us to have strong families, but I also believe that sometimes circumstances force us to make the best out of what we have. I believe that the pastor who flies rainbow flags outside his church prays and worships to the same God that the pastor who spends every Sunday arguing Bible inerrancy prays to. I believe that the God who loves the people who rigorously defend the Second Amendment is the same God who loves the people who rigorously defend Roe versus Wade. Finally, to those out there who agree with me, I quote the song by Steelers Wheel, “I guess I’m stuck in middle with you.”

5 Comments

Cameron Showbread

30

Cameron Showbread commented…

I know exactly how you feel but my scenario is a tad different My church is very fundamentalist and I don't feel that I really fit in there. Some of things they believe I don't. For example, I don't think it's okay to pick and choose laws from the OT when you won't obey the whole thing. Then I come to college and things are completely different. People are raising money for the homeless, going on missinon trips, spending time with children, tutoring kids and the whole time I'm thinking, "How come we don't do this at my church?!?" I never even thought of this being a way to minister to people! It was really culture shock, in a good way. So in a way, I feel that I'm stuck in the middle. I feel comfortable here at college and when I go home I feel like a complete outcast. Me and my pastor even got into an argument and he even questioned why I was giving my excess things to the poor. So I feel your pain. Hang in there, you're not the only who feel stuck in the middle.

jesse giglio

8

jesse giglio commented…

I just went to see the Dalai Lama, raised a few eyebrows around church :) Jesus always had his own way, no one party could quite own him or even agree with him. It?s a great place to be, not so much the middle but on a different plane entirely.
Also, Cshowbread I have serious concerns about any pastor questioning why you give to the poor. Sometimes we need to spend a little less time on who?s right and more time on what is living rightly.
[url]jessegiglio.com [/url]

Ben Chambers

3

Ben Chambers commented…

I think that the truth is found in the tension of two opposites. I think it's sad that we, as Christians, have 'camps'. One all the way to the left, and one all the way to the right. Not only does that divide us, but it then causes us to have a civil war between ourselves. We seem to have to berate the other side with charges that they aren't really Christ followers because they don't see it the way that I do.

It's sad. Especially since I think neither side is right all of the time. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that neither side is right most of the time. Most of the time, the truth and the answer can be found right in the middle.

Tabitha

4

Tabitha commented…

haha- i'm glad i'm not the only one who feels stuck between a rock and a hard place :). I feel for you most definitely- me, i find myself drawn towards the more conservative home school type christians because i know their regular reading of the word and faith makes them a stronger christian. Though i know that if we took the 'Jesus factor' out of the equation, then we wouldn't have anything in common- they usually don't listen to secular music, think women shouldn't be leaders in the church, and don't watch TV. I love talking about things of the Kingdom with them but I can't seem connect with them at other levels either. On the other side my more 'liberal christian' friends i find have very weird ideas in their head- which is usually due to a lack of reading of the word. My family has always told me to throw away whatever grouping i'm suppose to be in and just follow what God's word tells me to be- i do my best to get rid of the extra fluff that I know isn't from the word exactly. Here in the US it's hard to find people like that- who are willing to read the word extensively and yet be open minded enough to challenge some of our Christian habits with God's truth.
and Ben i agree- it's sad to see that despite the pages upon pages of warnings from the apostles to keep the church united, we still manage to make petty differences separate God's people. It shouldn't be like this at all :(

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neka commented…

I am 58 years old and find myself "stuck". Stuck in a church which has turned to fundamentalism. Stuck without a political party to support. "Stuck in the middle with you"......I am sure that I am sooo much older than the writers here......but good for them!!!!! Use your minds...and your heart..through follow the example set by Christ.... Love God and love one another

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