Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Most Uncomfortable Position

Straddling the fence is a most uncomfortable position!

Several months ago General Stanley McChrystal, the commanding officer of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said that he needed another 40,000 troops to accomplish the mission in that ongoing war. McChrystal had made that request to the President public, and it immediately became fodder for every television news cast, talk radio program, and cable news show's talking head. The debate has raged for months now. Should the President give the General the number of boots on the ground that he felt he needed? Or should we just clear out of that God forsaken place, having already lost more American lives than we should have in a war that seems to have no end in sight?

The President said he would not make any quick decisions on such a weighty matter - and he didn't!

Finally, after several meetings with his "war council", the President revealed his decision in a nationally televised speech. Speaking to the country from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he announced that he would be sending 30,000 fighting men to Afghanistan. He further said that he had set the date of July 2011, as the target for beginning the pull out of our troops.

Fire erupted on the President from both the left and the right.

The anti war liberals (his political base) raged that not one more soldier should be sent to Afghanistan. They would accept nothing less that a plan for an immediate withdrawal. On the other hand, the hawkish right applauded his committing more troops, but were incredulous that he announced a pull out date at the same time.

Our President, like many other politicians, was trying to have it both ways. Appearing to try to please everyone, he pleased virtually no one. He appeared to be straddling the fence, and as anyone who has ever literally done so knows, that is a most uncomfortable position!

Warfare planning is a polarizing thing. When waging war, there are basically two acceptable choices. Either totally commit the personnel, strategy, and resources required to win the conflict - or get out! It's really pretty simple. Any other choice is unacceptable and disastrous (anybody remember Viet Nam?).

Straddling the fence is terribly uncomfortable - and generally speaking - unacceptable.

The same concept is true in our spiritual lives.

Nearly 2,000 years ago, Pontius Pilate, the Roman Procurator of the province of Judea, found himself in a political no win situation. Faced with a howling mob, demanding him to take action against a prisoner in whom he could find no fault, Pilate asked the question, "What shall I do with this man, Jesus?" It's the same question that thoughtful people have been asking themselves for twenty centuries.

Jesus is the most polarizing figure in human history. He presents Himself to us as the ONLY way to Heaven, and to a right relationship with God.

In our current culture, a common philosophy is that there are surely several paths to God. Jesus is only one of many. Jesus, however, said that there are only two spiritual roads that a human may take. One is broad, with easy access, and heavily travelled. The other is narrow and somewhat difficult. It has only one on ramp, and many folks miss it. Jesus said that the first way leads to destruction but the second road leads to life everlasting. (Matthew 7:13)

Two choices.

Jesus said He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him! (John 14:6) Accept Him and His sacrifice for our sin, or reject Him and futilely try to make it on your own.

Two choices.

In Matthew 12:30, Jesus said, ""He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad."

Two choices.

Like Pilate of old, each of us must face that question, "What shall I do with this man, Jesus?"
There are only two choices one may make.

Be careful to make the right one.

Fence straddling is not an option. It's not only uncomfortable, but in this case, it's eternally disasterous!

No comments: