The Myth of Neutral Ground

The Myth of Neutral Ground

At the end of my last post, I said the following:

“I’ve got to have the Spirit’s mind about everything. I need to know what He has for me, and perhaps even more crucially, what He doesn’t.”

I want to elaborate on this point, because it’s a real victory for me to be able to even say that with any actual understanding of its import. I had no difficulty in comprehending my need to seek God’s will for my life, and I was even excited about that more often than not. Why? Because it involves me, a subject near and dear to my heart. But I didn’t really give any thought to what the Spirit didn’t have for me. I assumed that there was a spiritually neutral ground for me to play on outside of God’s specific leading, and what’s more, I assumed that I knew what that neutral ground was.

The Myth of Neutral Ground

The Myth of Neutral Ground
What do I mean by neutral ground? I mean the topics and activities universally acknowledged as godly, such as serving others, caring for the sick, providing for those in need, looking after widows and orphans, studying the Bible, prayer meetings, Passion plays, attending church, etc. If I’m engaged in any of these activities or bringing up any of these topics, then I’m good. I already know where God stands on these things, and so long as I’m on this neutral ground, God and I are good. I’m following His lead automatically, no thought or surrender required.

I was somewhat surprised to learn that this wasn’t the case. In fact, I really didn’t appreciate this particular truth at all when I heard it. I mean, seriously?! I can’t take initiative even when I’m doing the right things? Reading the right books? Praying the godly prayers? Talking about godly things? How can any of that be bad? Why is it so wrong to want a neutral ground where I can do as I please and still be spiritually sound? Such is the unending opposition to God that is alive and kicking in our flesh. I know that I have lots of company here—all of humanity, in fact.

What Neutral Ground Looks Like

What Neutral Ground Looks Like
The flow of the Spirit is a wonderful, miraculous thing. The Spirit unites unlikely groups of people who find themselves in accord with His heart, His energy, and His focus. It’s effortless and a true joy to experience – what fellowship is always meant to be.

Imagine a group of children playing in a beautiful, sparkling pool. The water is like the Spirit – buoying everyone, surrounding them, connecting them. The children are playing and splashing and delighting in the water and each other’s company. Then one of the children poops in the pool. Laughter turns to dismay as everyone must leave the now defiled pool. Playtime is over and the mood is shattered. Neutral ground in action has the same effect on the flow of the Spirit as a kid who poops in the pool.

I’ve been the pooper so many times. It’s easy to be the pooper! Just assume that you know what you’re doing and then open your mouth. I have been no different than the disciples witnessing Mary of Bethany’s outlandish love-anointing of Jesus and responding with, “Why this waste? Think of all the poor people, alas!” Godly concern for the poor + self-confidence = playing on neutral ground. Poop in the pool.

There is no time-out when it comes to being led of the Spirit. Martha wrote just that not too long ago, and it bears repeating often. It’s not enough to know God’s calling on your life and His will for your day or week or month or year. We have to know His will, His mind, His heart in every moment. There is no neutral ground in the Christian life, there’s only poop in the pool.

The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.

Isaiah 11:2 NKJV

The Holy Spirit of Christ is every provision for every moment and His yoke is easy. Neutral ground is just a myth, and that’s great because we don’t need it.

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    • Sam

      I loved this word and the pool example. Haha. Thank you for the reminder of His provision “for every moment”.

      Thank you Jen!


    • Chris

      the poop in the pool reminds me of the scene in Caddyshack. Great analogy! ??

    • Arleen

      So I’m thinking Paul’s analogy of good works being like filthy rags has another, more modern, and really even more abhorrent take – ‘poop in the pool’ – don’t think I’m going get that one out of my head!

    • Pauline

      Very challenging, Jennifer. I’m glad you included: “His yoke is easy.”

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