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Tightrope Walking

Updated on July 20, 2013

A Gone To Rot World

We live in a black and white world that bleeds to gray in more areas than we care to admit. Despite the life-affirming influence of the church, our culture goes out of its way to glorify and institutionalize practices contrary to God’s Word.

The Ten Commandments have been reduced to nothing more than guidelines or suggestions to be applied according to the dictates of each individual conscience.  For all our teaching emphasis on what’s right and what’s wrong, our society routinely employs a situational ethics that has the elasticity to meet the need for self-validation.

Followers of Christ have been rubbed into this relativistic milieu as salt that must act as a preservative while bringing out the best in others.  Our task is to make disciples in a gone to rot world where darkness is celebrated.

 Been walkin' the tightrope
 trying to make it right
 Walkin' the tightrope every
 day and every night
 Walkin' the tightrope bring
 it all around
 Walkin' the tightrope from
 the lost to the found. . .
    ~Stevie Ray Vaughn~

High-wire Maneuvers

A Stevie Ray Vaughn song captures the dilemma encountered by many Christians: If we're going to be effective ambassadors, we're compelled to walk a tightrope.

The tightrope we balance on is stretched between sin and salvation; between judgment and mercy; between an eternal death sentence and a promise of life everlasting; between hating sin and loving sinners. For our high-wire maneuvers to have any hope of success we must admit our desperate need for a Savior, then live within a matrix of genuine humility that continually cries out: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

When that occurs as a regular expression of worship, we soon recognize the sheer folly of elevating ourselves over others. We come to determine that we are all in the same boat or as the Apostle Paul put it: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

There's a Peanuts comic strip in which Linus, appearing rather forlorn, asks Lucy: "Why are you always so anxious to criticize me?" Lucy, looking very self-righteous, replies: "I just think I have a knack for seeing other people's faults." Linus becomes indignant. "What about your own faults?" he asks. Lucy replies: "I have a knack for overlooking them."

Isn’t that so representative of human nature? We can always see everyone else’s errors clearly, but our own failings are often a mystery to us. It is a trap that we can fall into both individually and collectively as the people of God. Zealous moralizing in the guise of instruction is an ever-present danger that plagues the church.

First-century Pharisees
First-century Pharisees

That Little Pharisee Inside

When Jesus of Nazareth led his ragtag band, he confronted fierce opposition. His view of a loving heavenly Father anxious to dispense grace was at odds with those religious leaders who painted a grim portrait of God as a hard-boiled enforcer of the letter of the Law of Moses.

The Pharisees were noted for demanding strict observance of the rites, ceremonies and traditions arising out of each jot and tittle of the Law. They took Jesus to task many times because of his violation of their interpretations, but in all their various legalisms, they missed the point of justice and mercy.

When it comes to unleashing harsh criticism, we who follow Christ can sometimes be the worst offenders; we dust off that little Pharisee inside to require perfect application of morality from those who do not even know Jesus as Savior and Lord.

With great ease we kowtow to that little Pharisee inside; we rise up in sanctimonious indignation to castigate the behavior patterns of raw pagans. We seem shocked or surprised when pagans do what pagans do. Just like the Pharisees of old, we lose sight of God’s purpose and compassion: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Grace & Mercy

Everything God has done since Adam and Eve fell into disobedience is intended to restore us to relationship with him.  As recipients of redemption, we are to be conduits of God’s grace to others.

Our assignment is difficult:  We are to be a voice of blessing in the face of curses; we are to hate the sin while expressing unconditional love for the sinner.  It is tightrope walking in the extreme.  When we stumble and fall, and we will stumble and fall off that tightrope, may we endeavor to land on the side cushioned by grace and mercy.


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    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      8 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      donotfear - Glad it got you thinking & hope you have a great day. Thank you for your encouraging comments.

    • donotfear profile image

      Annette Thomas 

      8 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Wow, just what I needed to hear this early in the morning, for sure. I'll be thinking of it the rest of the day. Good reading, great message.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thank you, Cagsil. Glad you stopped in. Blessings to you.

    • Cagsil profile image


      9 years ago from USA or America

      I found your writing very good. I enjoyed your article here. And I look forward to reading more. Glad to be a fan.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Thanks, James. Your encouragement is always appreciated.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      This is a great article. I couldn't agree more the the wisdom you so eloquently expressed on this page. You speak the truth with power.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      Gicky - Thank you for your encouraging words. Be blessed & encouraged.

    • Ken R. Abell profile imageAUTHOR

      Ken R. Abell 

      9 years ago from ON THE ROAD

      OldYeller3 a.k.a. a good friend - Thank you. Hope & pray things are well with you. Take care.

    • Gicky Soriano profile image

      Gicky Soriano 

      9 years ago from California

      Ken, I couldn't agree with you more. Following Jesus is just like walking a tightrope. If you take your eyes off Him and look down below, that's when you lose your balance. Peter understood this all too well. While we engage in this high wire feat, we need to be mindful of our own walk. How tempting it is to criticize the balancing act of others at the risk of losing our own footing. Pharisees and religious critics alike beware! Great insight, excellent hub.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Nice job.


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