By Johnnie Godwin
Contributing Columnist, B&R
Phyllis and I recently drove to a midday brunch to honor a newlywed couple. We had never been where we were going, but our GPS was set. As we turned off a paved road, our GPS took us up a graveled, narrow, curvy, mountainous road — with drop-offs but no turning back. Soon we met a full-sized pickup truck. Nearly side by side, the driver of the truck and I both stopped with our windows down. It was an impasse! We got the word “impasse” from French in 1851, and it means “no escape.”
What to do when at an impasse? The pickup driver and I agreed to go no farther because we had no room. But our agreement ended there. He felt I had room to move over a bit and told me the ground was solid there, where a bit of grass was. Phyllis was on the passenger side, and she agreed with me that we ought not move an inch toward the “plummet” side. I told the truck driver he was all right and could ease straight forward. Neither one of us could back up. He replied that he had a drop-off on his right side. I told him it was no more than a foot, and my drop-off was all the way down. What to do? Finally, we both agreed to stay on track but ease forward just a bit. That worked! When our rearview mirrors were almost touching, he said, “There’s a lot of traffic on this road today.” It was probably the first time he ever met someone coming up on that road.
Someone has to move to overcome an impasse! We got to the top and found about 50 other folks who had gotten there somehow. The groom welcomed everyone to his in-law’s outside, covered eating place. Then he said a prayer and told us to dig in, get the good food, and sit where we wanted. So we did. Phyllis and I were the seniors of the day and at least two generations older than the ones we sat with. But we felt right at home and enjoyed it. After a couple of hours, we hugged goodbyes, wished the newlyweds a great marriage, and eased down the mountain without meeting another vehicle.
When we got home, Phyllis studied the GPS and saw that the named “Loop” road had another entrance a short ways farther than our GPS had led us. And the second entrance was flat and quicker to the brunch destination. We missed the best road because we followed the quickest directions on the GPS.
So what’s the connection? Well, there’s both a heavenly point and an earthly point in all this. The heavenly point is that a lot of folks seem to think the quickest and best way to get to heaven is to do more good on this earth than bad. Wrong! Acts 4:12 says, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name whereby we must be saved.” In context, it says you get saved only by trusting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Ephesians 2:8-10 says we get saved by grace through faith and not works.” The salvation-impasse requires each person to repent and get saved by the blood of Jesus. There is no other way to escape hell and no way except the cross and Jesus’ blood to get saved. There is no wiggle room on this salvation impasse, but there is a complete turn-around from our way to God’s way in repentance! You move forward God’s way or not at all. A balance scales approach to salvation leaves you in the hole of hell.
Churches often get in an impasse! A church is a fellowship of those God has called out of the world and into assembly with each other to worship Him and to do His will. But churches can get dysfunctional just as Congress or marriages or any other relationship groupings. I’ve been in churches so divided that no one was willing to give an inch. And in that impasse, they didn’t move one bit forward. Oh, the churches may have shown signs of prosperity in numbers of attenders, their offerings, and so forth; but they may have been as unproductive as the fig tree Jesus cursed when it had leaves but no fruit (Mark 11:11-14). Jesus also said that a kingdom or house divided against itself cannot stand (see Mark 3:24-25). When our motives and hearts are together, we can overcome an impasse through God in Christ. Neither side necessarily has to back up or yield; but each side has to agree to work together for the common good or goal.
Getting past the impasse requires alignment! Every church needs a Syzygus or yokefellow (Philippians 4:3, The Message) to help those at odds get aligned together in heart and spirit and work to move past the impasse. If you study the Seven Churches of Asia Minor (Revelation 1-3), you will get a summary of strengths, weaknesses, failures, and the way out for every church to move forward in the way God wants a church to move. The status quo is never enough. It’s a no-grow stance. It’s what Ronald Reagan said is Latin for the mess we’re in. Rather, each church is to listen to God with its spiritual ears, hear, and turn in repentance; or else the church’s light will be removed. The challenge in churches and in all relationships isn’t who wins and who loses but, rather, how we move forward together to please God. It’s time for all of us in every area to move past the impasse and move forward in saying yes to God’s calling and to His will.
— Copyright 2017 by Johnnie C. Godwin Write him: firstname.lastname@example.org.