On or off. Extended or retracted. All or none. For or Against. Calorie packed or diet. Ones and Zeroes. Is there any space for the in-between? For the Neutral?
To those who have decided to passionately support one side or the other, neutral is a word that polarizes.
Two countries separated by a demilitarized zone (DMZ) believe each is correct in their stance and that the other is wrong. The DMZ space represents a peaceable area that negotiations could occur. Mediation between the countries is governed by a larger grouping of responsible countries. Regardless of this proclaimed place of conversation, DMZ zones can be some of the most heavily militarized areas in the world. The border of North and South Korea serves as a stirring example. Barbed wire, mine fields and armed guards situated respectively opposite each other defines neutral space, as a space to be quite wary of and armed for.
Both military installations have concluded that they themselves are correct, and their stances need not change.
To those who are undecided about what they think or are open minded enough to hear about different ideas, neutral is a word that signals safety. Neutral space, to the undecided, means that no agenda is set and that questions are allowed. No condemnation is set, and hearts can be opened instead of on the defensive.
At least one side has decided to reveal that they are in need of help, are not perfect and is willing to make an effort to change.
I believe that neutral is one of the most powerful words that we could use in regards to Christianity. It assumes that there are two sides, and that there some kind of mediation that needs to take place. How violent or peaceable their interaction, depends on the each side of the conversation.
As he was a Jewish leader, Jesus engaged in conversations at the synagogue.
What compels me, however, is the amount the time that Jesus spent in building up relationships outside of the synagogue.
You and I know plenty of people who would never dare to walk into a church service, and we can certainly understand why. Church gatherings can bring about polarizing feelings. A judgmental experience causing hurt or confusion can separate a person from even daring to approach a church for decades.
Given the great commission, Matthew 28:18-20, making disciples happens in the wake of life as we go. The going about of how we make disciples is the question. How we approach the neutral spaces of life is the answer.
Heavily arming the church with apologetic defenses, will seldom bring the message of Jesus from the church into the surrounding community. This form mediation is repellant to those who have decided that they have no need for Jesus Christ.
Equipped with love and knowledgeable wisdom, Jesus met people inthe neutral spaces of life. He met them fishing, he met them hiking, he met his disciples while grilling out on the beach, while hanging out out with people who would never ever dare to enter a synagogue.
Where can we find the neutral spaces to make disciples?
- Food, food, food
- a Grillout on the beach
- Hang out at someone’s home
Neutral Space may just be a more effective place to make disciples than a polished church service.