Walking on a Thin Line in a Dark Place

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Originally published in September 1994

Stanley is one of my bestfriends ever.We met back in Bible college many years ago.While I was at this particular college with a purpose, Stanley did not want to be there for any reason whatsoever.Our introduction to each other was a few grunts from him and no impression from me.Yet somehow he chose my apartment to be his place to avoid everything about that college.At first, it had nothing to do with it being my apartment.He would just be there coming and going as he pleased often with very little conversation to anyone.My room mates and I soon learned to ignore the lump on the living room floor in front of the TV.

As time passed Stanley did try to get to know me and he even started to help around the apartment.Now years later and many adventures and memories later, he is one of my best friends I've ever had.I can even take him out in public now because those first introduction grunts have been replaced with pleasant words.

Because Stanley is so Stanley, he puts me in several odd situations.Sometimes these situations are uncomfortable.There was one such particular weekend.We spent the weekend with some of his sinner friends.

These people were not your average sinners.They thought they had no need of God.All had grown up in church and were somehow burned.Now they wanted nothing to do with this God who represses their lives.According to them, their lives became better when they got rid of that repressiveness.One of them even blurted out in front of me, "I hate all Christians, I don't care who they are."Stanley stole a quick glance at me.I looked away.She went right on babbling.

I was in a very dark place and my light from the heart of God was barely flickering amidst all that darkness.It was so uncomfortable.I desperately wanted to be with other lights so that my flame would mix with their flames and there wouldn't be such darkness.It would have been easier being with other lights because then the brightness of my light wouldn't have mattered as much.Yet that didn't feel right in my soul because the combination of our lights would have outshined the darkness and then there would be no light to expose the darkness.

No wonder groups of light continue to gather together creating Light Coffeehouses, Light Aerobics, Light Basketball Leagues.There is comfort being with other light versus the discomfort of the starkness of your light amongst the deep darkness.

However, my little light was most visible that weekend.Those people wouldn't be going to Light Coffeehouses to hear the gospel.I knew I needed to be that light in that dark place.Opportunity knocked.

My mind raced as I prayed for direction in this situation.What could I say?What did I have to offer to make this light shine brighter and expose more darkness?From these people's attitudes, I knew I couldn't offer the normal things:God's love, forgiveness, heaven or hell.They've heard these things before and they are exactly what they had thrown out when they threw God out of their lives.I knew all I had to offer them was my integrity.This is what would set me apart and make my light shine brighter.This is what would prove to them that being a Christian is lifechanging (versus repressive) and what they need in their lives.And then such things as God's love and forgiveness become needed because they are not just jive things to say.

A person of integrity is a person anyone can trust, a person anyone wants to be with, a person anyone wants to be like.Proverbs tells us that "If you do the right thing, honesty will be your guide."Proverbs 11:3.Everyone has been hurt by people who are two-faced.These people were hurt by two-faced Christians.A person of integrity is a rare find.Even these people who hated all Christians would want to be with me and like me if I could retain my integrity.Which I did and they are now my friends even without Stanley.

Integrity is a hard lifestyle because it is a thin line to walk.I had to watch everything I did.I had to consider everything I laughed at, agreed to or chose to respond to.I had to choose when to be righteous (which is viewed as uptight) or full of grace.If I cheated here, laughed here, didn't follow through there, I would be like all those other Christians and they would think they were better than me because at least they were being true to themselves.

In the light of other Christians this is much easier.Small slip ups such as laughing at the wrong time would not be noticed as much in so much light.When we are among other Christians for much of the time, our integrity can slip because it is not noticed or necessary.Just ask your pastor this.The pastors who have fallen had lost their integrity first.Their integrity could be lost because they were among so much light it wasn't noticed.

This is the thin line Christian students face in public schools.Every decision they make is on that thin line--or the cutting edge as some youth pastors preach about.Every decision.That weekend was tough for me.They face this every day.This is one reason why Christian youth have such a hard time making it and have such roller-coaster type walks with Christ.And this is why youth group is such a relief to these same youth.They are with other lights--finally.That thin line is removed.They can cut loose a bit.Youth ministries need to reflect that.

Adults have the option to flee to Light Events only.It becomes a rarity for them to leave such places.

When Jesus was walking this earth, He was often found partying with sinners.How did He do that?How dare He do that?What would people think?We know what He thought of that."Jesus answered, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do’"Luke 5:31.He walked that thin line which He has all wisdom to do.His light was exposing the darkness in these sinners' lives and they were drawn to that.I spent much time that weekend praying and seeking His wisdom, while I walked that thin line.

Unlike Jesus, I was not the guest of honor nor the life of the party which is an unusual position for me.My presence was tolerated because Stanley wanted me there.But I was still there.That is more than most Christians would have done which meant they saw more of God than they normally would have.

Surprisingly, through time they now consider me their friend.They really do.I am no less Christian and they are no less sinners but that divide between us is no longer there because friendship covers it.They have let the light in.

Not all Christians can do this.For many varied reasons, some Christians' flames would not be able to hold up in such darkness.With wisdom and prayer, you can find the many other places where such a flame would make a difference.But the thin line of integrity is the same no matter how much or how little light there is.

In the future when those people I spent the weekend with confront their thoughts of God or Christianity, hopefully they will be thinking back to me and they will have found nothing bad to say.They saw integrity not duplicity.And I planted or watered a seed.