It was the second battle of the Civil War. Tensions were volatile as troops moved again into the vicinity of First Bull Run. At that time, Manassas Junction was little more than a strategic railroad crossing; with rails leading to Richmond, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. The two Capitals of the two causes now locked in a great struggle and in between, a poor farmer, very much stuck in the middle.
As troops approached from two directions, the farmer worried about his property being destroyed. He was decidedly neutral in this conflict and wanted to convey his support for both sides. With that thought in mind, he dressed with one part of his wardrobe grey and the other part blue.
The South arrived first and saw the farmer’s pants in blue and began shooting at him! The desperate farmer kicked off his pants and, waving his chestnut hat, stood up to display his grey shirt. They had barely stopped shooting when the North arrived and, seeing his grey shirt and chestnut hat, began shooting at him from the opposite direction.
The farmer threw down his hat and peeled off his shirt and ran, nearly butt-naked, into his barn.
After the battle his property was badly damaged. He decided to move out of Virginia and get away from the conflict, vowing to never try to make everybody happy again. All he wanted was some peace of mind. The story goes that he moved his residence to the neutral border State of Maryland, to a docile place called Sharpsburg, also known as Antietam. The next bloodiest battle.
THE MORAL OF THE STORY IS…
There is a time when neutrality is no longer possible. Trying to please everyone pleases nobody. What matters in particular is this question: What pleases the Lord? Are we to avoid the offense of truth in all subjects at all times? If so…what exactly causes persecution, if not the conflict of ideas and opinions? The false prophet is the one who speaks and never offends people. The true prophet never speaks with the intent of offending, but rather with the intent to be faithful to God and his own conscience.
We blend in a bit too much, I think. Compared to other ideological causes, the average Christian is embarrassed by awkward conversions and controversial social subjects.
Beware, lest in trying to position yourself and prosper your career, you miss the moments presented to you to be a faithful witness. Sometimes the warfare of “casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” is not the battle in your head – it is the battle coming through someone else’s mouth who is trying to propagandize you.
I think we should create a short list of powerful answers to controversial issues that enable us to be winsome and effective as salt and light.
What do you say?