So much of life is bipolar. Either you’re Republican or Democrat. Either you’re Pro-Life or Pro-Choice. Either you’re anti-gay or Liberal. Either you’re liberal or conservative.
It’s tiring to choose.
In studying and reading, I find that there are so many scholarly and well-defended viewpoints on everything. It’s rather mind-boggling how much well-defended information is at our fingertips.
Now, before we go further, I’m not a relativist. I don’t believe all truth is Truth. In fact, I take pretty firm stands on Truth.
However, Jesus seemed to always offer a third way between two polar opposites. Was Jesus pro-life? Certainly. Does his heart break for young women who abort a child because the systems of injustice they face are too powerful for them to possibly consider bringing a child into the world? Yes. Definitely.
I know I’m walking on fine ground here by quickly putting Jesus into making decisions on controversial issues, but I can’t help but read about a Jesus who simply sought “third way” solutions in direct opposition of choosing one side or the other.
Consider the story of the woman caught in adultery. She is about to be stoned and people want to know what Jesus is going to do. He bends down, draws a line in the sand, and says, “Let he who has not sinned be the first to cast the stone.”
Option 1. Be directly opposed to adultery.
Option 2. Be directly in support of adultery.
The third way: Love despite adultery.
Of course it breaks Jesus’ heart to witness a person live in adultery. It’s a sin. Adultery breaks hearts and destroys families. Adulterers’ and adulteresses will most certainly need to face our righteous and fair God who deems these sins disgusting.
But Jesus first response is to choose a third way between the polar opposites.
He chose to defend the undefendable.
He loved the unlovable.
He stood up for the sick and backed the least of these. When they sinned, he loved them and then pointed them to the third way of living. “Go and sin no more.” But first, let me love you as much as God loves you.
Our worldview, especially in the West, teaches us to see only one option. We think there is a single cause to every problem, and if we just stamp out that cause, we’ll fix the problem. But usually, there is more than one cause. There is more than one reason. And we need to adjust our worldviews to incorporate the complexity of thinking in the Third Way.
Am I a capitalist or a socialist? I’m a mixed economist. I believe everyone should receive equal benefits and health care and yet we should let the market determine fair prices.
Am I for or against abortion? I’m for every life being saved, but also recognize that oftentimes, we are trying to stamp out the growth while failing to address the root. Therefore, we must love and fix the systems that cause abortion in the first place.
Am I for or against universal health care? I’m for everyone receiving adequate care for health. I’m opposed to people cheating the system.
There are plenty of dogmatically rigid individuals who refuse to see the world in colors other than black or white. These individuals will fight vehemently for doctrinal issues as if they and God are the only people who know the ABSOLUTE truth on certain issues regarding, for instance, homosexuality, heaven/hell and what it looks like, the Holy Spirit, and free will v. predestination. On and on and on the scholars will argue, and for what point? We need to hold fast to the truths of Jesus, God’s undeserving love and grace towards our sin, and let everything else be a matter of discussion.
There are just a few issues that don’t require “third way” thinking.
1. Jesus is the ONLY way. There is not a “Third way” in this regard. Jesus is fully God and fully human. What he did on the cross is the only reason we have hope of salvation. He ALONE bridged the gap between ourselves and God.
2. God desires good. Although the world leans towards injustice, God ultimately is a loving and good God who wants the best for humanity.
All in all, the point is: Oftentimes, as my brother says, the truth is found in the middle.
The truth is found in the Third Way.