Contend Earnestly: The Great God of Balance

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Great God of Balance

The more and more I live this life of trying to follow Jesus and do what he calls us from the Scriptures the more I hear "balance" screamed from the pages that give us a glimpse into the mind of God. Have you seen this in your own sanctification? It seems to always come up. Think of it. God seems to always give us some basic rules for our joy, but rarely says, "don't do this or that" but instead asks us to look into our own heart and rely on the Spirit. Sure, he gives us things such as:

Do not hate
Do not murder
Do not lust
Do not commit adultery
Do not be greedy
Do not be drunk
etc., etc., etc.

But, what God doesn't tell us clearly is when my hatred of sin turns into woeful and selfish anger. What God doesn't tell us is when you have turned to merely drinking wine and turning into being drunk. What God doesn't tell us is what lust exactly is, what we can or cannot look at and when we should merely turn our heads. Although leaning on the conservative side of these will most likely be the best, we should be careful to both not judge others or refrain from confronting others when engaging these topics.

It seems as though these carry on to everyday aspects of our lives.

To drink or not to drink?
To make a lot of money or be a pauper?
To give too much, to give too little?
To be an Arminian or a hyper-Calvinist?
To engage culture or to withdrawal from culture?
To live the gospel, or to preach the gospel?

We can go on for days, but the it seems as though the answer never seems to be "always do such and such" in any of these cases. It seems as though there is always a balance. You don't want to become a Pharisee (following laws to such an extent where you rely on your work to gain salvation instead of Jesus'), but you also don't want to become a Nadab and Abihu (ignoring God's laws and doing what you deem to be okay). Like I stated above, there are definitely some things that are just wrong because God says it is. But there are so many gray areas in life it begs the question of "why?" Why doesn't God just lay out for us how we should appropriately follow what he has laid out for us in the Scriptures?

I believe it comes down to the fact that if he did, we would become self-righteous and depend on our own will and our own work of following God perfectly. Instead we are told,

So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
Romans 9:16

I believe if God were to give us everything so clearly, then where would faith come in? Where would prayer come in? Where would dependence on the Spirit of God come in? Where would dependence on the body of Christ come in? Where would the hope of a new Kingdom come in? You see, because we don't have all the answers it causes complete humility (or at least it should), and reliance on the Spirit of God. If I already had all the answers I wouldn't need to continually rely on God, His Spirit, or His people.

What I have noticed though, the more and more I work and the more I study, is that God is a God of balance. Usually, it isn't one radical thing over another radical thing, but rather, a balance that involves both sides to come to the middle.

So, it looks like this in a nutshell:

It's not abstinence of alcohol or being drunk, but it's understanding when and how much to drink while relying on the Spirit

It's not abstinence of making money or making as much money as possible, but a balance of making money and understanding how to live sacrificially with it

It's not abstaining from the culture or so immersing in the culture that the gospel is lost, but it is taking the good news to the culture and redeeming it, yet without sin.

It's not drawing up straw men against other religions or becoming syncretic, but it is befriending other people in other religions and engaging in helpful conversations about our differences and similarities for the sake of the Gospel and the glory of God. Will both people of each religion desire the other to "convert" to the other...possibly...but I don't want anyone to convert to Christianity, but desire everyone to follow Jesus instead.

God desires our worship and our devotion. He desires our hearts to be completely His. To do this, we cannot merely make assumptions about others and draw up debates for the sake of winning, or rules for all to follow for all time in all cultures unless they are explicitly made in Scripture. We need to be as balanced as God is and know that we are sinners with a finite understanding. Understanding this will have us pang for the Kingdom of God instead of desiring to make everyone disciples of US, and will in turn have us desire for everyone to be disciples of the only King, the only salvation, the only Son of Man, the only hope...Jesus Christ.

Understanding the great gospel of balance makes me rely on Jesus instead of my own intellect and that is always a good thing.

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9

He who trusts in his own heart is a fool,
But he who walks wisely will be delivered.
Proverbs 28:26


Darlene said...


I'm not sure "balance" should be integrated into the Christian phromema/mindset, in describing how we should live our Christian lives. There should be not part of our lives in which Christ is not present and actively working. Participation in the life of Christ, being changed into His image, requires a dying to oneself. Living in submission to Christ requires an attentive ear in listening to the Holy Spirit's conviction.

It seems self-righteousness is a temptation for most if not all because we as humans want to take credit for our progress. Oddly enough though, self-righteousness can enter in when one is leaning toward antinomianism too. In this case, one can think of themselves as "better" or more "liberated" or more "illumined" because, in their view, they don't have to "do" anything, salvation is a done deal period. And so they can take pride in not feeling the need to "repent and work out their salvation" like so many other miserable fellows/gals.

Still, I don't see balance in the Holy Scriptures, nor in Christian history. The blessed martyrs gave their lives shedding their blood for Christ. And many are doing so even in our own day. Christ, Who is our example, gave up His life for us, eduring the cross and despising the shame. We are to be imitators of our Lord and of the Apostles, all who gave up their lives to live completely for their Lord Jesus. He calls us to die to ourselves and abandon unholy and worldly pursuits.

When the man who had followed the commandments approached Jesus, our Lord told him, "One thing you lack..." You know the rest, it wasn't any suggestion of balance. When He gave us two new commandments He called us to the highest standard, "Love God with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your mind, and ALL your strength. And love your neighbor as yourself." These are radical concepts. And even harder still, the mark of a Christian (no doubt you'd agree) is to love one's enemies, not hate them or resent them or reject them, etc. and ask forgiveness afterward.

Living for Christ, following Him, is the highest calling we have. It requires mortifying the flesh (a term I like from John Owen's sermons). We are called to pray and to do it ferverently, constantly, to storm the Heavens with urgency. We are called to fast in imitating Christ, the Apostles, the Early Fathers and saints throughout the ages. Such is a sacrifice. We are called to pick up our cross DAILY and follow Him.

The more I read Holy Scripture, the more God grants me another day, the more I participate in His life, the more I realize that I must decrease and He must increase. There is an increasing demand upon my life, not decreasing. There is a call to grow into His likeness and abandon those things which shame, hurt, anger and scandalize my Lord.

Balance, I just don't see it. Rather, I hear Christ telling me I must be perfect (complete, whole) as my Heavenly Father is perfect. And so I find myself being convicted to shed/cast off those things which are displeasing to Him. "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

Darlene said...

For the second sentence I meant to say, "There should not even be a part of our lives in which Christ is not present and actively working."

Related Posts with Thumbnails