Summary: This sermon is in the Elijah series
Xl 0n the fence People
There is a cancer that is quickly spreading among many of our churches today. This cancer is causing many churches either to lose their effectiveness or to die. A cancer that allows church members to believe that the Christian walk and life has no personal cost. A cancer that elevates tradition and history ahead of Biblical inspiration and revelation. A cancer that springs from our society’s obsession with tolerance and not offending anyone.
This cancer could be called many things but for the purpose of this message I will refer to it as "On The Fence Christianity’
So what exactly is it? For some answers, turn with me in your bibles to 1 Kings chapter 18 beginning in verse 17.
At the home of the widow, Elijah finally received word from the Lord that the drought was going to end. The Lord told Elijah to go to King Ahab and confront Him once again with the truth. After three years of intense training, Elijah accepted this new assignment with joy. He relished the opportunity to speak for God to Ahab. Once face to face with King Ahab, Elijah challenged him and all of the false Gods they worshipped to a showdown on top of Mount Carmel.- The gods of Baal and Asherah against Yahweh the one true God.
850 of the prophets of Baal and Asherah gathered on top of Mount Carmel along with all the children of
Israel. Once on top of the mountain, Elijah turns to the children of Israel with a poignant question: How long
will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.
Their response: But the people answered him not a word.
The children of Israel were given an opportunity to publicly choose which God they would follow. They responded by choosing neither. They responded by staying on the fence- choosing to stay in the middle rather than choose a side or in this case a god.
If you hear nothing else this evening, hear this statement, Nothing displeases God more than on the fence Christianitv. Either be for him or against Him.
There is an old fable about a hungry donkey. This donkey was placed between two bundles of hay. Incredibly hungry, the donkey turned to the hay bale on the right and then to the one on the left. They both looked so equally good that the donkey could not decide which bale of hay to eat from first, so the hungry donkey died of starvation
This fable may seem silly but the truth is when we ride the fence, deciding not to decide, we are exactly like that hungry donkey.
This morning I want to briefly examine this topic of On the Fence Christianity. I want to look specifically at who
these people are, what consequences exists for them, and how they can change
. I. So who are They
The on the fence People can be best defined by looking at three different groups of people.
.1. The first groups are those individuals who are under conviction - but are never quite convinced.
In the book of Acts Paul’s presents the gospel
message to both Felix and Pontius Festus. They both are impressed with the message and are convicted.
In Acts 24 verse 25 we find this account: And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and
judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.
-Felix had a good understanding of Christianity. He knew enough about the Christians and their teachings of righteousness to know that Paul was telling him the truth. Yet he postponed doing the right thing. He stayed on the Fence.
In Maine while planting a church one of the core families who attended was not saved. At different times the gospel was presented to each of them. As the message was shared I could see that they were being drawn to God; yet time and time again, they chose to not decide. - to stay on the fence
2. A second group are those individuals who are spectators - attending church but not really apart of the church.
Today are churches are filled with spectators. With 20 % of its people doing 80 % of its work. For many church has become a spectator sport. If you do go, stay on the fence, don’t get too involved. In churches all across America it amazes me how many church members don’t even tithe to their own church. An on the fence spectator says this is my church, this is my pastor, but that is just about it.
Art Turock, in his book, Getting Physical makes this distinction. "There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstances permit. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results. "