“We just need some balance!” No matter the fad or the trend, ultimately someone rightly announces that the bottom line to a happy life is balance. Too much food or too little food, too much rest or too little rest, saving money or spending money, fear or recklessness, a mind that never turns off or a mind that rarely turns on. There are two opposing sides to the scale that usually tips more to one side than another. It rarely rests in the elusive middle.
We want balance nevertheless. We feel, as we have been told, that if we strike the balance there will be smooth sailing. Things will even out, and we will live happy and healthy lives. In many cases, this may very well be true. Although we tend to lean towards extremes, a modest approach to living does shine as the wisest approach in everyday life.
When it comes to our walk with Christ, however, the scales must completely tip over, and balance should never be our goal. Of course, due to our natural tendency to go to extremes we must be careful to understand what living a God-fearing life without balance looks like. I am not talking about going to extremes through self-righteous works. That is outward religion, and the Lord referred to those caught up in that as “white-washed tombs”; wanting to look good on the outside, while their soul remained as black as pitch (Matt. 23:27). Nor do I speak about extremes of self-denial, as if some type of penance is required for absolution. “For by grace we have been saved through faith. And this is not our own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). There is no extreme approach to living in the world that can remove one single sin from our lives…ever…even if we were to live a million years. It is also very clear in 1 Corinthians 13 that if we speak in the tongues of men and of angels, have prophetic powers, understand all mysteries and all knowledge, have all faith, so as to remove mountains, if we give away all we have, or we deliver up our bodies to be burned, but have not love, we are nothing. This is another sort of extremism that is not okay. If we are man-centered, we gain nothing.
In what way, therefore, are we to live in the extreme, and how can we accomplish it? The only thing (actually a Person) required to kick the scales to the curb forever is Christ. Through Him we receive and manifest His love, the missing ingredient in 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. It is written that everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Without Him we can do nothing for Him, at least anything that will last. God-centered extremes are an impossible achievement outside of Christ (1 John 4:7b, John 15:5), but possibilities come to fruition when we remain in Him.
When Christ dwells within us balance is an illusion–dare I say, a sin. We are either for Him or against Him (Matt. 12:30), all in or all out (Matt. 10:37-38), cold or hot (Rev. 3:15-16). There is no middle ground, no safe zone, no comfortable balance. If we have died with Him, our life is now hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). We are not our own.
When Christ tells us not to love the world or the things in the world, because if we do the love of the Father is not in us (1 Jn. 2:15-16); I would say we are getting pretty extreme. When He tells us that everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for His name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life (Matt. 19:29); I might suggest that we are over the top. When He tells us to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, and pray for those who abuse us (Lk. 6:27 -28); I think perhaps we have stepped over the line. And, when He tells us to pick up our cross and follow Him (Matt. 16:24), I would dare say that we are exceedingly radical with not one scale in sight.
We must stop trying to achieve some perceived balance when there is none to be had. We need to stop trying to stay comfortable, have our little lives, and keep just the right amount of Christ. The only right amount of Christ is everything. The greatest commandment sums it up beautifully. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Lk. 10:27). All. Everything. There should be nothing left of ourselves to consort with the world. No little hidden rooms of our own agenda, no holidays from holiness, no compromise for the sake of comfort, no cowardice disguised as peacekeeping. We must remember that the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. We are called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and persevere to finish the race (Matt. 7:14, Phil. 2:12, 2 Tim. 4:7, Acts 20:23-24, 1 Cor. 9:24). All these take all-out abandon to the will of God…it takes us going to extremes.
Full submission to Christ is the only thing that can tip scales, and we are called to fully submit.
As Paul writes to the Romans, let Him also speak to us. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:1-2).
Friends, as we continue to abide in Christ, we must be willing to throw any notion of balance right out the proverbial window, and with full abandon follow Christ right off the scale.