Monday, March 13, 2006

BALANCE

Just what is ‘balance’ in a spiritual community? The word ‘balance’ is not always perceived as a good word. For those who embrace ‘balance,’ they may have in their minds the need for security, keeping away from extremes or playing by the book. In a spiritual community there is a lot of validity in this outlook.

However, others when they hear the word ‘balance’ they shudder. For them, when they hear the word ‘balance,’ they thinking BORING! These people are the ones who will say if you want to get things done in this world you will have to take risks and maybe even be perceived as an extremist. Jesus was hated by the ‘balanced’ religious leaders of the day because he was viewed as extreme.

Now, the proponents of ‘balance’ as well as the opposers each have a valid viewpoint and to complicate things, GOD created us all differently. We are all wired to react in different ways to different situations and one person’s balance is another person’s extreme.

In a spiritual community (church) many people see the Christian life simply in terms of their journey with GOD. They spend time in prayer and study, they gather at church as long as it helps them with their connection with GOD. They are quite happy not to get involved in the lives of others. If we were to look at Christian history, a logical extension of this kind of lopsided Christianity was found in the monastic period. Then, life was spent in prayer and study, but the truth concerning evangelism, being the salt and light in our culture, and providing input and solutions to many of the problems the world was facing was conveniently forgotten. The irony is that many of those who practiced this monasticism have given us great insights on topics such as solitude, prayer, personal discipline, but one has to wonder if they failed in fulfilling the Great Commission?

Without question our relationship with GOD is highly important, yet it appears that our faith must always be connected to one another. Jesus talked about loving GOD with all our heart, soul and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves. So does worship lead to work? Does prayer lead to preaching? Does contemplation lead to community? The Christian life is not just about GOD, but it is about people as well! Where is the balance? The church is about worshiping GOD and loving people and from my personal experience the latter area is the hardest of all. Learning to forgive, and receive forgiveness, loving and serving and encouraging one another is what real Christianity is all about. Where is the balance?

Thoughts?

10 comments:

Jeremy Postal said...

Most people who really succeed (at least in my eyes) are usually quite unbalanced and quite eccentric. Whether they are professinoal snowboarders, published writers, rockstars, or whatever - they have taken big risky eccentric journey's that usually grates on most balanced people.

Adriano10 said...

Soulpastor

This: "Now, the proponents of ‘balance’ as well as the opposers each have a valid viewpoint and to complicate things, GOD created us all differently. We are all wired to react in different ways to different situations and one person’s balance is another person’s extreme." Answers your question.

Balance is attained on a personal level. Forgiving and loving and all those things that attribute to Balance are decided upon by the individual. "Real Chrisitanity" as you put it is also based individually, what you see as real is what someone else sees as false, some people think real Christianiy is living a celebate lifestyle and worshiping alone. Others think that community is proirity. Who are we to tell them they are wrong, Biblically both these methods could be supported.

The point is as long as there are different people, there is going to be different balance becuase of different people. People also struggle with these types of issues as well. I dont think we need balance, we are all sinners right. It is extremely hard to have balance, and those who say they do, in my opinion, are full of it. IT IS THAT HARD.

Also the Christian life is Firstly about God, and Primarily about God. Then comes people, but the Emphasis is on God. People are secondary. We require a relationship with Jesus first, not relationship between people. that comes after.

pastor mike said...

I personally tend to react negatively to the word balance" In my experience it has often been used as an argument for a middle of the road, elevator music approach to life/faith. I much prefer the word tension.

Michael said...

I disagree.

As exciting as it may to jump on the 'we're extreme for Jesus' wagon, I think there is a place for balance.

The bible offers a number of examples where things were taken 'to the extreme' in a negative sense (thechurch of Corinth for one).

I understand your point, that introspection should ultimately turn us outward to our community, but without a strong foundation, and continued time spent in the word and study, we risk losing the plot, and becoming 'extremists' in the most negative sense of the word.

M

filletofsoul said...

Soulpastor

I find it strange that you would say that the religious leaders were "balanced" and that Jesus was extreme. Maybe we understand the word in a different way. The scales (balances) you used for the heading of this discussion is a symbol of justice and fair dealing ( Job 31:6; Psa 62:9; Pro 11:1).

Mediocrity is boring, balance is beautiful. Balance is something to be strived for. When I think of balance I think of God. He is that picture of balance. We push the "God is love" theme around a lot but equally he is the "God of Justice". Each quality makes the other stronger and richer. That is balance. Look at his creative skills. How did he make such a intricate world that was in harmony with each other? It was created in perfect balance. Each creation made for a reason, helping to sustian another. (except maybe the mosquitoe!)

Anyway, I believe balance is found in God. He is the author of it. As we read His word, seek His direction and live our lives to please Him we find balance.

steve said...

In her book, Plan B, Anne Lamott says of community, "when we spend too much time alone we tend to get a little strange." I love this quote. The point is, we need community. We need to live a life which gives us some alone time with God but we also need to continually strive to live in community with other broken, sinful people. This is true balance. Adriano10 says that we need a rel'shp with God first and then a rel'shp between people but what does this catch phrase really mean?! In my experience, this is one in the same thing. We learn more about God, His character, and his Kingdom when we are in communion with other people...otherwise, we tend to 'get a little strange' when left to our own devices.

SoulPastor said...

Hey All
Thanks for the input...
But let me respond to Fishy...
Thanks for findig it strange that that I would say that the religious leaders were "balanced" and that Jesus was extreme.

We obviously understand the word differently. For instance...you interpreted the scales in the picture as a symbol (one of many) for justice...I did not, they are scales that are balanced.

As for the others...I am with you whole heartedly Steve on the issue that GOD and people are a "both/and."

I will have more on that later, but now, it is supper time.

Stephanie said...

I must say that I "get" what filletofsoul is saying. The religious leaders in Jesus time balanced? It doesn't seem that way to me. They seemed rather extreme to the legalism side, and extremely uncompassionate towards their fellow man, don't you think? And maybe Jesus was "EXTREMELY" balanced. So very wonderfully balanced to an extreme, that we should aspire to be like Him. "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's". Balance. "Love the Lord your God...and love your neighbour as yourself." Balance.

But, of course, He was also extreme. He told someone not even to bury his dad, but to follow Him right away. He told a rich young ruler to sell everything he had and give it to the poor.

So, like so many things in life, Jesus is an enigma. I think that if we try to put our Christian lives in a box, such as "we must be Balanced", or "we must be Extreme", we are missing the point. I think we all need balance as we follow the Lord to extremes.

Christianity doesn't always make "sense". It sometimes seems contradictory. For example (and way off topic), the subject of predestination and free will. Which is right? Both maybe??? Is it possible that maybe there are mysteries that only God understands the balance between?

Highlander said...

Looking at the above posts, I think you guys missed SoulPastor's point, not that we haven't seen a tangent here before. He was talking about balance in Spiritual Community. That happy balance between sitting quietly and knowing He is God and picking up the "Sword" and going out to redeem the time.

I think that Jesus showed us the importance of both, illustrating the balance that His life demonstrated. As He started His ministry He spent his time fasting and praying (Matt 4). Right after, He engaged the enemy and started then His work with people. As Christians, God has called us to worship Him AND love people. Even though both are good in themselves, if we are lacking in one of them we are missing the balance that we started to talk about.
I have met Christians who have balance and met those who are without it. I am working on it personally and know I am not there, yet.

SoulPastor said...

Thanks Highlander for keeping to the point!