Namely, what it means to publicly live out your faith between the caustic walls of our world these days.
On one side, you have the wall of the world itself. This wall is full of mouths. Mouths that accuse you, constantly, of hypocrisy. “How dare you have an opinion about abortion that isn’t cohesive with my desire for government-funded child murder?! You can’t feel bad about your sins or my sins or anybody’s because SINS AREN’T SINS!” This world-wall is a constant, screeching yell, and it wears on the Christian. It would be so much easier if we could just go, “You know what? You’re right. There should be no standard by which we judge anyone, including ourselves.” And sadly, many have adopted this stance. It’s so much easier to become another mouth on that wall.
On the other side you have the wall of the “church.” The “church”-wall is fewer mouths, but a nearly endless sea of eyes. All of them watch you, with every step. I said there are fewer mouths, but I assure you, there are still mouths there. But unlike the world-wall, the “church”-wall waits. The world-wall assumes it already knows all that it needs to about you, about how you fight and struggle and even how serious you are about your faith. It’s assumptions are usually wrong, but there aren’t many ears in that wall. The “church”-wall doesn’t make those assumptions. The “church”-wall watches us and when we stumble then those few mouths open. They open and what proceeds forth is more terrible than the world by a factor of a million.
“We knew it,” they say. “We knew you weren’t really after Jesus. We knew you would mess this up, eventually. We knew you weren’t as serious about this, or as good at it, as we are.” And though the world-wall is louder, and perhaps more shrill, we probably never reached out to lean on it.
If it wasn’t obvious, the “church”-wall isn’t the true church. It’s the scoffer, the mocker, the troublemaker, the instigator that knows how to look like a Christian. They knew how to prance and speak and when to say “amen” and when to tut-tut and what are the distinctives that should be enforced with self-satisfied glee. The problem isn’t Christianity, the true church, or the Jesus that we love. No, the problem is that we walk this gauntlet until we die. And it wears on us. It grinds us down until we’re weeping because we can’t keep walking.
And God doesn’t swoop down and break apart either wall. He doesn’t snatch us out from between them like eagles in Mordor. No, instead, he stands at the end. He stands in the clearing where you can always see Him. He stands there, waiting. Not so that He can be sure you won’t bounce between them or stumble. He doesn’t wait there because He has some sick, cruel delight in watching you clasp your hands to your ears to block out the accusation or the mockery. No, He stands there because He’s the only thing worth walking between those walls.
If anything else sits at the end of this path, this way between these two errors, you will eventually give up walking it. It’s not worth it for anything but the real Jesus. He’s worth being bitten by those who dress up in church clothes. He’s worth being hated by those who refuse to even hear you. He, and only He, is worth this.