THE PROBLEM WITH DOUBLING
In the world of ‘doubles’ we might think of The Two Ronnies, Woodford and Woodbridge, Laurel and Hardy, the Bryan Brothers. We might think of those unsung movie stuntmen who double for the stars in their action movies. We may even imagine the lure of gambling and its enticement to double your money with just one throw of the dice. But none of these are the type of doubling that we must now consider.
Have you ever had so much to do that you’ve found yourself wishing you could be in two places at once? Imagine having the power to double ourselves. Perhaps you might like to have another you – not to be in two places at once – but simply to get through everything on your To-Do List before their deadlines?
LIVING DOUBLE iS TROUBLE
I have met people who have a double! Despite the alluring appeal of having a double to be in two places at one time or to get twice as much done, these people are cursed by having a double! Initially they welcome the idea of their double, but over time they discover that having a double creates trouble. If you haven’t yet met anyone leading a double life, when you do you may discover just how troublesome it can be. These people are one person to a particular group of people and another person entirely to another group of people. Their trouble begins when they encounter representatives from both groups at the same time. It’s not undercover agents who must carefully manage this. Not that long ago I was indirectly involved in trying to deal with a situation where a pastor had been leading a double-life. One of his lives was spent in Australia where he was married and pastored a missions-minded church. This church welcomed the opportunity to reach out around the globe and take the Gospel to people otherwise ignorant of it. They largely did this by releasing their pastor to travel to these South East Asian countries to undertake teaching and training. The reports of his effectiveness and success bolstered their enthusiasm for further overseas involvement. What they didn’t know was that the pastor led another life. Because living a double-life is so troublesome, trouble has a way of gate-crashing these people’s other lives at the most inconvenient time. And for this pastor it did. And it was ugly. A lot of people were badly hurt.
We can be in “two minds” about something and not be “double-minded”. I’m often in two minds about things when there is a decision to make. This simply means that when things are boiled down to two different directions I can often see merit in both options. But to be “double-minded” is to wilfully choose to believe two incompatible ideas.
he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. . . Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
James 1:8, 4:8
Over the past few years I have quietly helped several people who had been living double lives. This kind of help is built on two things: trust and grace. The trust these people have given me has been the result of consistency, discretion, and honesty. For a double-minded person to be helped requires someone they can trust. Secondly, it requires a broader understanding of the grace of God. Many people only see God’s grace as if it was His turning a blind-eye to their sin. But God’s grace is never that! God’s grace is His enabling and provision for what we could not do or have by our own effort. Understanding God’s grace this way means we can begin to see what the Reformers distinguished as God’s extraordinary grace and God’s common grace. Sometimes God will miraculously intervene into a situation (“extraordinary grace”), but usually God will respond to those who call upon Him for help by enabling them to do what they could not do in their own strength or with their own resources. This is His “common” grace. In every instance of a person who has been living a double life, there are people who have been hurt. While this hurt cannot be undone, there are measures that can be taken to begin to heal it. For the double-lifer this path to healing their hurt ones is called the road to integrity.
THE SINGLE LANED ROAD TO INTEGRITY
May integrity and honesty protect me, for I put my hope in you.
Integrity comes from the word integer. An integer is a whole number (rather than a fraction). To be a person of integrity means to be a whole person (rather than a fraction of one person and a fraction of another). A person of integrity is someone who is who they are no matter who they are with. Who they are in private is who they are in public. A person of integrity knows who they are, what they are good at (and what they are not), how to apologise when they have hurt someone, and how to listen to those who have something to say to them.
To become who you were created to be and to discover your life’s purpose and the right way to live, is only possible by following Christ and His teaching. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis – A person cannot claim that Christ was a good man and a great teacher and then ignore Him and what He taught! This is one of the worst kind of double-lives! For someone to present themselves as a Christian and yet live as if they are not, is for them, to live a double life. In the words of Jesus, this is living a lukewarm life (Revelation 3:20). And to the Lukewarm, Jesus speaks with tenderness and gravity. His tenderness is heard in His appeal, “I would rather have you be hot.” Those who live ‘hot’ for Christ are passionate, devoted, committed to Jesus and His Word, ways, and will. This is living the Christian life with integrity. Amazingly, Jesus says He would rather have people be ‘cold’ rather than ‘lukewarm’. Those who are cold toward Christ does not misrepresent Him to the world, but those who are lukewarm do. This is where we hear the gravity of Christ to those who claim to be His followers yet don’t live like it. Jesus warns of a particularly dire eternal consequence for the lukewarm who are living a double life.
Living with one foot in the world and one foot in the Kingdom of Christ is a horrible double life. Such a person can’t truly enjoy the world because they know that sin is not just breaking God’s Law – it’s breaking God’s heart! Neither can such a person enjoy their relationship with Jesus, His people, or His Word. It is my prayer that everyone in our church will find their greatest joy in being with Christ in prayer, worship, Scripture, fellowship, and reflection. The spiritual heat generated by such grace-enabled followers of Christ attracts the cold-hearted to the soul-warming Saviour. And for those who are living spiritually double-lives, especially for those are young, I pray that you might open your heart to God’s love, light, life and lordship to discover for yourself that the Christ-hot life is far more beautiful than the cold or lukewarm double life.