Most of us have heard the phrase “fringe element.” Typically, those words are used negatively, describing a group of people outside the mainstream. Not all who are on the fringe are negative. Jesus and first-century believers were called a sect, a fringe element of society.
The masses of people who make up a society are typically accepting of the status quo, even if the status quo has migrated over time closer toward a negative end. The ones who make up the un-discerning mass can be suspicious, and in some cases fearful, of any fringe viewpoint that upsets the cart of their norm.
It requires discernment to see the difference between positive and negative fringe influence. Deceiving spirits have learned our preferred ways of communication. They also influence our decision-making process through undisciplined emotions. Where language and emotion come together is where our most significant jeopardy exists. We need God’s help to discern the difference between the light and dark influences that want to direct the course of our lives.
We live in a time when fringe elements, both good and evil, are attempting to move the masses of culture, and in some cases, the Church, toward two very different outcomes. To be as wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove is never an easy assignment, but it is how we move from the fringe to the center to establish truth in the heart of an individual, cultural institution, or nation. We need to be cunning in our approach as we move toward the core of an issue and encounter opposing spirits and systems that defend against change. As we make this move, the Lord asks us to remain gentle in how we deal with the people who stand in opposition to the message we carry and, at first glance, might see our effort as just another fringe element to be dismissed out of hand.