- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 28, 2004

The following are excerpts from a sermon given yesterday by the Rev. George Marshall at the Scripture Church of Christ in Falls Church.

Jesus said: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou were cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth,” (Revelation 3:15-16).

You can’t have it both ways; you either have to be hot or cold.

This is a problem with some leaders today — they vacillate — going from one position to another — trying to please both sides. Jesus always said what he meant and meant what he said. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says, “No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” So, you can’t have it both ways. But many try. In James 3:10-12, Jesus might also have been speaking of today’s politicians.

James 3:10 -12 says, “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine figs? So [can] no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.”

Some of us try to have it both ways because we are afraid we might offend others. Or we may have some other reason to remain silent, or to soft-pedal an issue.

But to those who would speak out, such as in the 9/11 inquiry on the Hill or in the recently published book, which caused so much squealing, I am reminded of a childhood hog-killing story. When Baileys Crossroads was in its infancy, the community would have a hog-killing day when a half-dozen hog owners would gather together for a hog-killing event.

Each would demonstrate their method, and I remember one of the owners explaining while I watched. Four men would seize the hog’s feet, and a fifth man would hold the hog’s head back. One owner demonstrated with a long knife as he cut the outer part of the hog’s throat according to his unique method and then plunged it deeply into his throat as the blood rushed out. The hog, who had been silent thus far, then suddenly squealed loudly as he collapsed. I remember the owner looking at us in the eyes as he said, “They only squeal when you stick them deep.” As we see daily, when one person makes a stand, it is likely to “stick them deep and they will squeal,” such as in the political arena. So, too, it may be in other arenas.

Others [run away], as in Jonah 1:2, God said, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord; and went down to Jappa, and he found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord.” Instead of many people speaking out, many flee as Jonah did to Tarshish.

Has anyone seen Jonah today? For God has never left himself without a witness.

We have many Jonahs today, who, rather than take a stand, have left for Tarshish where they are at the bottom of a ship asleep. Our great evangelists who find themselves at every national event, where are they today? Why are they not speaking out and taking a stand? We have Jonahs somewhere that are not speaking out because they want it both ways. They are neither hot nor cold. Like Mel Gibson’s “Passion” play, how many people are afraid to stand for one way or the other? But Jesus said in John 8:24, I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

Elijah said in 1 Kings 18:21: “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, ‘How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him.’ And the people answered him not a word.” Are we for good or evil? Be hot or cold — not lukewarm. Stand up for something.

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