This was the instruction that greeted motorists who travelled south on the M56 out of Manchester the week before last. I found myself giving mental assent. It’s probably one the most infuriating occurrences when a ‘middle lane hogger’ dilly dallies down the middle lane of a motorway with, it seems, complete disregard for their surroundings or the rules of the Highway Code. But why do people do it? Well, it could be argued that it is far more convenient to drive along at a steady pace avoiding all the big lorries and caravans in the near-side lane, not to mention those bothersome slip-roads in which you have to gauge the speed of the adjacent vehicles attempting to push-in in front of you. Perhaps ‘middle lane hoggers’ feel a great deal safer in the middle lane because they don’t have to continually pull-out to overtake vehicles in the near-side lane. Whether motivated by convenience or fear, ‘middle lane hoggers’ choose to opt for the easier route – easier for them, that is, but usually not for their fellow travellers.
‘Middle lane’ Christians are not uncommon. Convenience or fear, they choose to opt for the easiest route, the path of least resistance. In the apocalyptic letter to the Church in Laodicea the Holy Spirit refers to such Christians as “lukewarm” (Revelations 3:16). Interestingly, the Laodicean Christians were self-deluded. They were of the impression that they were OK. That they were not the problem. “You say, I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” (Revelation 3:17). However, as far as God was concerned, they were spiritually bankrupt and in real danger of being ejected from their place of fellowship with God.
Even a casual reader of the New Testament will identify the oft repeated exhortation for total and utter wholeheartedness for the sake of God’s glory and the extension of God’s Kingdom. For example, the Apostle Paul exhorted the 1st century AD Christians in Rome: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11). As far as Paul was concerned, there was no room for spiritual mediocrity, for ‘middle lane’, half-hearted Christianity. It had to be ‘all for Jesus’ or nothing at all for Jesus!
At 11.30am on 16th January 2004 I was in my study in Aberdare, South Wales when the church pianist brought me a poem, a poem previously given to her mother whilst she was wrestling with a particular call of God upon her life. Allow me to share this poem with you.
“The call of God it is so clear, but friendships call and home is dear.
Surrender all, then take the road with them who will go through with God.
Go through with God, thy vows to pay, thy life upon the altar lay.
The Holy Ghost will do the rest, and bring to thee God’s very best.”
These are days of great opportunity for the Gospel. God is looking for those
who will forsake the middle lane and take the road with those who will go
through with God.