Have you heard people comment that so and so is a balanced teacher or the book they have
just read is declared to have a balanced point of view! In my experience we view being balanced as someone who believes much the same as “I” do. It makes us feel safe and gives us some assurance in our beliefs!
This person or book or teaching or church group can then be viewed as ‘acceptable’ for our consumption. What does balance mean? It is seen as being neither too liberal but also not too legalistic! In other words it is like walking a tightrope! And is this what Jesus calls us to? I think not!
In practical terms we would all prefer God’s gracious work within us to be neat and tidy with no blurred edges and if it ‘works out OK’ praise the Lord because He answers prayers. On the other side of the coin I have heard people complain that they are angry with God because it did not work out as they had wanted it to.
These two streams of thought lead many Christians to believe that Christianity and respectability or compromise are one and the same thing! We may not admit that but we certainly practice it.
This is so far from the truth! We have picked these thoughts up from a distorted Gospel and a lack of understanding of the character of God.
JESUS – OUR EXAMPLE
When we read about the life of Jesus in the Gospels we find that Jesus is neither ‘balanced’ [as described earlier], nor is He in any way respectable. He is a Father pleaser! When I follow Him on His journey along the dusty roads of towns and cities He has a way of making me feel quite uncomfortable at times. He rattles cages and challenges us deeply because He does not fit into our ‘Christian cultural view of life!’ Why? He turns everything upside down and the right way up at the same time!
We are not called to walk a tightrope of ‘our best efforts’ based upon human endeavour. Thomas thought like that when he said, “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road?” [The Message] Jesus tells him that it is not about being balanced or respectable or dependent upon human effort. Living for God is all about a Person called Jesus. “I am the Road, also theTruth, also the Life.” [The Message]
Listen carefully to Him. “Someone told Jesus, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you!’ He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” Wow! Does not this statement offend our sensibilities. Today He would be called abusive, slanderous and uncaring! He does away with sentimentality and goes straight to the heart of the matter. Pleasing the Father! We would probably want to finish off what we are saying and then go outside to see our family. He lifts our focus higher!
What about this statement – “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. Again, He appears to rock the boat of our ‘respectable Christian viewpoint’ and yet all He is doing here is giving us real perspective on life. He does this over and over! Thankfully, there is always the grace to embrace what He is saying. The problem comes when we resume the ‘balanced’ state of mind and living within the perimeters of a religious mindset!
The Kingdom of God has come when those ‘respectable’ cozy relationships we cling to are put into perspective through Jesus’ words. He has a simple yet profound way of sharpening our focus. In these very challenging days Jesus leads the way by demonstrating how life is to be lived.
He does not fear man and challenges His disciples to forgive 490 times. He talks to a Samaritan woman at the well and makes it clear who He is. Even his disciples are taken aback when they return from buying some food! He tells this woman He has water for her and she will never thirst again if she drinks it. Finally He breaks with ‘political correctness’ and tells this Samaritan woman that she worships in ignorance [obvious discrimination] but the way ahead is to worship the Father from the heart! ” These are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks out”
Jesus does not say and do these things just to be different or awkward but rather because He knows He is right! And, because He is right He knows what is best for us. When He speaks something that might appear difficult or challenging it is at that point we realise that unless He helps us with this matter we are sunk! And so we learn to be dependent upon Him all of our lives.
It is not about being seen to do right but rather following The Master’s example – “I never do unless the Father showsMe” We need men and women in this hour who walk humbly dependent upon Him away from respectability and balance as we experience the power of His life working within us. And, never recover!