1Kings 18:21 The Message ¶ Elijah challenged the people: “How long are you going to sit on the fence? If GOD is the real God, follow him; if it’s Baal, follow him. Make up your minds!” ¶ Nobody said a word; nobody made a move.
It was a lazy, quiet, sunday afternoon, at least it was until the dogs started barking. Now it is not unusual for my dogs to bark, but there are different degrees of barking. That afternoon silence had been interrupted by life and death barking, the kind reserved for the end of the world or a cat invading the back yard. I went to the source of the commotion in our kitchen and I saw immediately the cause of the excitement. There was a fence straddler dangling just a few feet from our kitchen window. The neighbor’s son was straddling the fence, you know, one leg on this side and one leg on the other side. His dad had him cleaning the vines off of the fence. To the dogs it was an invasion, to the young boy it was an aggravating interruption to an afternoon of video games, to me, a great sermon illustration. Nobody wants to be a fence straddler. It is quite an uncomfortable position to find yourself in.
In the Christian world, fence straddlers are the most miserable of all creatures. They are the ones abstaining from some worldly pleasures but indulging in their own acceptable amount. This position keeps you caught between two worlds. Not enough of the world to really enjoy, and not enough of God to satisfy your soul. Fence straddlers are miserable people. John Gill spoke about Elijah’s comments about people limping between the two worlds. Check this out.
“sometimes inclining to the one, and sometimes to the other: as a lame man in walking, his body moves sometimes to one side, and sometimes to another; or “leap ye upon two branches” , like a bird that leaps or hops from one branch to another, and never settles long; or rather it denotes the confusion of their thoughts, being like branches of trees twisted and implicated; thus upbraiding them with their inconstancy and fickleness; what their two opinions were, may be learnt from the next clause: if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him;”
Now before you get too concerned, all of us are fence straddlers to one degree or the other. We all have our accepted amounts of worldly pleasures that we deem acceptable behavior for a respectable Christian. You see we, of all people, have struck the right balance. The only problem with that is this, everyone thinks they have the proper balance. From the wine sipper to the occasional fornicator, everyone thinks they have a handle on the proper amount of sin allowable in their lives. But what if there was another source of pleasure? What if there was a life of surrender and spiritual indulgence that was greater than all of the pleasures in this world? If the Bible is true, there is a place of unspeakable joy. David sang about it, Peter preached about it, and Paul experienced it in a Philippian prison. When you taste this joy yourself maybe, just maybe, you will finally get off of the fence.