I have had a friendly feud with several staff members at CVC for the last several years about "balance." Some of our staff members are very, very convinced that the way to live a life that honors God is to live a balanced life. I'm not so sure about that. To me, balanced living has always sounded like lukewarm living. I've felt that God is most honored when we are living with passion and zeal and fire, not balance.
This topic came up again when my friend John Alan Turner started blogging about the issues surrounding balance.
He wrote, "I somehow picked up the idea that balance was the key to life." Some of his blog readers chimed in and said they had learned the same thing in the form of a well-known Greek maxim: "All things in moderation." John continued, "There are some things you can’t do in moderation. You can’t experience a moderate amount of ecstasy. You can’t be moderately heartbroken. You shouldn’t be moderately involved in the lives of your children, and you can’t moderately follow Jesus."
John remembers a conversation that he and I shared about balance. I mentioned that I didn't believe that balance is truly biblical. John writes, "I was totally shocked when [Rick] suggested that the idea isn’t biblical and reflects more of a suburbanite, comfortable, manageable lifestyle than anything we read about in the Bible. I have been to countless retreats and read dozens of articles in Christian magazines touting balance as the Holy Grail of the Christian life. [Rick] might as well have questioned the deity of Jesus! But the more I thought about it, the more I began to suspect that my friend Rick was right. If you just go through a list of the great bastions of faith in the Bible — say, Hebrews 11 — you’re not going to find many characters who are good examples of balance."
What follows are some of my thoughts in response to John's blog. I think a better goal for us is to be what I call "appropriately passioned,” rather than balanced.
For example, I don’t think my wife, Maryanne, would appreciate it if I sought to love her with a “balanced” love. She wants me to be “head over heels” in love with her (which really does descibe my feelings for her!).
In the same way, I don’t think God is particularly moved by a balanced life. Or a balanced love for Him. He wants us to love Him with all [ALL!] our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. That doesn’t sound like balance to me. Sounds like "sold out" love.
Among many, many other scriptures, you can check out II Corinthians 11:24-28 today. Paul is writing: “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”
I think we’d all have a hard time calling such a life “balanced.”
And then I think about Revelation 3:15. Jesus, of course, is speaking: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm [think “balanced], and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”
Wouldn’t we all agree that the Lord wants us to pursue passionate lives, “on fire” lives, zealous lives? It’s really hard for me to see how “balance” is a synonym for “zeal.”
And think about Jesus’ words in Matthew 13:45-46. “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it."
“What? He sold everything? Wait! That’s not balance!” Exactly. God is looking for people who are “sold out,” not balanced. Those are the ones who get the Pearl of Great Price.
I want to be passionate (not balanced) about all the right things. The Lord. Service to Him. Wife. Sons. Church. Friendships. Health. There may be times when I will have to focus on one at the expense of some others. But that’s OK. I believe that God will give me all the necessary time I need to be blazingly passionate about each area of life when the time is right.
To me, something about “selling out” is just more compelling to me than “being balanced.” I don’t want to sign up for anything that asks for a balanced commitment. Why not? The last I checked, a balanced commitment never won a World Series (Go Tribe!) or a Superbowl (Go Browns?). When I signed up to serve Jesus, I signed up to be on a team that wins it all. And He does win it all. And He's looking not for balance, but for a radical, passionate commitment from each of us.