I recently read an article listing 12 teachings that harm the church. It bothered me a bit. In the article, the author attempts to make the point that “balance is the key to life”, and the key to understanding the whole counsel of scripture.
I respectfully disagree, and I want to take a moment to articulate why.
I don’t want to get stuck in semantics and my intention is not to argue with the author (I actually agree that some of the teachings mentioned in the article are harming the church), but I do want to argue against a “balanced” Christianity and argue for a “radical both/and” when it comes to great doctrines of the Christian faith, and how we live out our faith on a day to day basis.
I agree that any truth taken to the extreme (to the point of ignoring other established truth) can be harmful, but I don’t believe that the answer is a balanced approach.
Yes! We need to take the whole counsel of God into consideration, as the Apostle Paul claimed to do (see Acts 20) and as was correctly pointed out in the article. But look at the context of Paul saying this! This is not a man who is living a balanced life -it is a man who is living a radical life! He is radically setting his course for Jerusalem to be imprisoned, beaten, tortured, and ultimately killed. He is radically pursuing both life and death -not searching for a balance between the two.
But I digress.
The point that I hope to make is that balance is NOT the key to life. Jesus is the key to life, and he was not a balanced man. He was a radical man.
My concern is that a “balanced” life will lead us into nothing more than an inglorious mediocrity. We will be irrelevantly peaceful at best, or become disillusioned agnostics at worst.
Let us passionately pursue Christ as we embrace a both/and mentality when it comes to the hard work of understanding deep rooted theological truths.
What do I mean by that?
In the aforementioned article, the author essentially pits several theological positions against one another and calls for a balance between the two.
For example, he finds fault in what he calls “Hyper-Grace” and also in “Hyper-Holiness”. His point is that people who glory in the fact that they are saved by grace alone, and not by works (“Hyper-Grace”), are in danger of not caring about how they practically live their lives. On the other side of that theological coin would be people who strive to do good works and maintain a good outside appearance (“Hyper-Holiness”). The author is essentially calling for a balance between the two.
I am calling us not to a balance, but to a radical both/and!
What if we live as Hyper-Grace people and Hyper-Holiness people. Isn’t that the real call of Christ?
Shouldn’t we live fully under the law of grace and also live lives of complete holiness?
What does a balance between the two really look like, anyway? 50% grace and 50% holiness? Grace on Monday and holiness on Tuesday?
That is not the kind of life that the world needs to see, and it is not the kind of life that Christ calls us to.
Consider Jesus. He was God and he was man, right? Was he 50% God and 50% man?
No! Jesus was fully God and fully man. He was radically both. How is that even possible?!
All things are possible with God.
The Spirit-filled life of a Christ follower should be a life not of balance, but of radical both/and.
How about the doctrine of the Trinity? Is God the Father or the Son?
Both. And the Holy Spirit.
Is He 33.3% Father, 33.3% Son, and 33.3% Spirit?
No! Of course not. He is Three distinct Persons in One.
100% Father + 100% Son + 100% Holy Spirit = 100% God
It’s radical, not balanced.
That’s our God, and we were made in His image. We are meant to live that way, too.
Of course we understand this on secular matters.
I am a father, son, and husband. Does this mean that I am technically 33.3% father, 33.3% son, and 33.3% husband?
No. My kids need me to be 100% father. My parents know that I am 100% son. My wife needs me to be 100% husband.
And so it is with the Christian faith.
Let’s throw away this idea of balance and pursue a radical both/and.
Let us, as the body of Christ, be radical in the way we extend and receive grace. Let us be radical in our pursuit of holiness and in calling others to be holy as well. Let us be radical in the way that we believe God is sovereign over all things and all circumstances. Let us be radical in the way that we believe our choices actually matter and that we will be held accountable for them. Let us be radical in the way that we extend and receive love. Let us be radical in our faith, believing that God can do abundantly more than we could ever imagine.
Christian, please do not aim for balance (which is actually more of a Buddhist belief than a Christian teaching). Aim for a radical life, believing Jesus when he said that he was the way, the truth, and the life… and that we who follow after him would do even greater works than he did (see John 14).
Don’t fall into a life of mediocrity. Aim for greater. Be radical.