Why You Shouldn’t Live A Balanced Life

by Michael J. Klassen

The people from the church in this respectable city in the Roman Empire were good church people. They faithfully contributed money in the offering and attended worship regularly.

Historians tell us the city had been destroyed by an earthquake thirty years earlier and they rebuilt themselves without assistance from Rome—so it was a self-made town.

A self-made church in a self-made town. A sign of God’s favor?

Not quite.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus describes the church in Laodicea with these sobering words: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17). The people’s needs were met, they were comfortable, but they didn’t realize their deep need of Jesus

The church in Laodicea was respectable—they didn’t get overly dogmatic about their faith. You could say they were a balanced church. “You are neither hot nor cold,” Jesus told them. They weren’t dead; they were committed to Christ…but they weren’t overly fervent about him either.

Of the seven churches in Turkey that Jesus addresses at the beginning of the book of Revelation, Jesus compliments six of them. But to the church of Laodicea, Jesus had nothing positive to say.

Don’t Live In Laodicea

We live in a society that values balance and shuns anything that appears extreme. As a result, most people—including those claiming to follow Christ—want to be characterized as balanced. We don’t want to get too worked up about anything and we don’t want to be seen as extreme in our faith. The church in Laodicea would have fit in well in today’s society.

And here’s what Jesus said about them: “Because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:17).

You’ve probably heard the adage, “The opposite of love isn’t hate; the opposite of love is indifference.” The balanced (aka indifferent) life isn’t necessarily what God had in mind.

Obviously, balance in some areas of our life is important. I need to work on eating balanced meals containing fruits and vegetables. I need to work on getting more sleep at night. And sometimes I work too much.

But when it comes to our faith, God doesn’t want balance. Jesus didn’t call us to live safe, respectable lives. He calls us to sell out to him.

Incidentally, translators have softened Revelation 3:17. “Spit out” is translated literally “vomit.” The Message probably comes closest to the literal translation of Jesus’ words: “You make me want to vomit.”

Balanced People Rarely Make A Difference

In my study of Scripture and the history of the church, God rarely works through balanced people.  But he revels in using imbalanced people who throw caution to the wind and follow Christ irrespective of those around them who feel they are too extreme.

  • Scripture tells us King David danced before the Lord when the ark of the covenant was returned to Israel—much to the dismay of his wife Michal. David enjoyed a long reign as Israel’s greatest king. Michal died childless.
  • John Wycliff was widely criticized for trying to translate the Bible into the language of the common person.
  • Jan Hus was burned at the stake for preaching that Scripture is our sole means of authority for belief.
  • Martin Luther, the instigator of the Protestant Reformation, lived his adult life on the run because he was accused of being extreme.
  • Anabaptist reformers Menno Simons, Michael Sattler, Conrad Grebel risked their lives because the majority believed they were getting a little too radical in their Christian faith.

But most of all, our greatest model, Jesus, was never accused of being balanced.  When he opposed the Pharisees, his disciples pulled him aside and said, “Hey Jesus, did you know you offended them?”  He threw the moneychangers out of the temple. Jesus was killed because he was too radical.

Did you know that the term “Christian” was initially a derogatory expression? It means “little Christ”. The early Christians were considered too extreme in their beliefs about in Jesus.

We cannot truly follow Christ and be balanced at the same time.

All too often the church in America is held captive to political correctness. We seek the respect from those who care nothing about our faith or Christ. We’re more interested in a good reputation in the community.

Jesus, on the other hand, made Himself of no reputation (Philippians 2:7 NKJV). He said in Luke 6:26, “Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you, for that is how their ancestors treated the false prophets.”

Proverbs 11:1 advises us, “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight” (ESV italics added). Granted, the idea of a false balance pertained to dishonesty in business dealings, but when we tie our definition of truth to the ever wavering weight of national opinion, we give the impression to those around us of a false balance. A false balance is anchored to public opinion, even the opinions of other well-meaning believers.

A true balance is anchored to Scripture.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance.  The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

Believe me, I’m preaching to myself. But as I look at the spiritual landscape, I know that something needs to change. I don’t want the culture around me to force me into its mold.

So I invite you to join me by refusing to live the balanced life.

Michael serves as co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado. If you liked this blog post, you may want to read Are You A Good Christian?
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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Why You Shouldn’t Live A Balanced Life

  1. Mike

    Michael,
    Can I PLEASE make this political and name names?
    OK, I won’t.
    Just a note so you know I read and agree 100% – that is I agree we should be unbalanced and I agree that I am guilty of being too balanced. Sometimes I make myself sick!
    Have you considered that political correctness must be from the place of sulpher and smoke since it wants to make truth unspeakable and all beliefs equally true? Somehow we all have been lured into believing – to some extent – that saying what is obviously true is wrong because someone may be offended. Fact is Truth does offend the arrogant and the liars. This is not to deny that HOW we speak and act truth is important (have you watched the political debates?) oops

    Mike

    • Mike, I wanted to make a political statement too, but resisted. Great display of self-control!

      And I completely agree with you about political correctness and speaking truth. Speaking it in love, however, is the challenge. Sometimes speaking in love can mean saying things pretty bluntly which ends up nailing a person to a cross.

  2. Georgie-ann

    It’s very interesting that you should be writing about this, because I was just thinking about something along these lines. We are now looking at all kinds of ideas, opinions, and viewpoints, comments and judgments, being tossed around continuously in the political challenge realm.

    Of course we have our “favorites” — (or at least WISH we had a favorite!), — and all are getting “banged-up” pretty badly in this “bumper car” arena, being held in the instantaneous and glaring “analytical lights” of the pompous media pundits, self-satisfied commentators and arbiters “of all,” that they see themselves to be.

    It’s hard not to become a little bit cynical or jaded,…”been here before,”…”seen this, done that,”…”ho hum,”…”oh, well,”…”yeah, just throw those poor ole Christian @#%s to the lions again, as usual,”…”can’t get no respect no how, so why bother?”…”the false prophets usually win anyway,”…and on and on,…

    So, along with most everybody else, I’ve been seeing/feeling this as the win-or-lose political challenge that it effectively IS, (along with the sobering win-or-lose potential consequences that we could face), but it is also something else: It IS also a great opportunity! — (perhaps one of our “finest hours” in a sense) — to be able to stand up, go forth, and Witness publicly to the Truth (win-or-lose)! God bless those who let the Truth of their Faith shine before men, who let the world see and hear through them an uncompromised personal version of what it “looks like” to be a sincere Christian who doesn’t blush or apologize for their faith.

    Sincere Christians aren’t perfect, but they tell their Truth to the best of their ability. It takes a very strong person to resist cow-towing to the forces of “politically correct” expectations and influences and brain-washing, and “blurring the lines” to court favor and influence among the prevailing pagans.

    Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

    Matthew 5:14,15
    14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.”

    Go team!,…I’m surely rooting for you!,…but I think not so much as God is Himself!

    Colossians 1:9-12

    9 “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

    10 “that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

    11 “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;

    12 “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.”

    Amen. “Let your light so shine before men.”

  3. Thanks for your insights, Georgie-ann. I do admit that I’m a bit jaded by the political system. Modern politics speaks primarily in sound bites, which doesn’t lend itself to speaking truth. And, quite frankly, all too often the people who refuse to be politically correct voice opinions that aren’t biblically sound.

    I know that the political process is important, and that Christians should involve themselves in politics, but I’m not ready to sell my soul in order to be heard. I’m leery of every political camp–even the ones who claim to speak for God.

  4. Georgie-ann

    Dear Michael,…Ever since my e-mail server “re-did” itself, my computer up and does weird things that I can’t figure out,…I just lost a whole bunch of stuff, including a reply to you, but didn’t X them out myself,…oh well,…basically I’m in complete agreement with you about the political process, and feel just as frustrated/hopeless/disappointed/and whatever,…but in a nutshell, even if there are imperfect (which we all are), but “sincere” (to the best of their ability) Christians trying to be “salt and light,” and even if we are embarrassed by some of it and disagree with some of it, a witness to those “mighty spiritually-neutered balanced ones” IS attempting to go forth,…(kind of like Davids and Goliath sometimes),…

    Given that the world’s problems are even more deeply rooted in the spiritual, rather than the practical (and that is hard to believe, but absolutely true), who are we (only seeing in part, and not many of us wise) to expect that we could or should be able to actually solve all this mess? But I DO think that we are called to try to influence/(speak to) the process/system, and in the long run, hope to even benefit ourselves society-wise from some hopefully better decisions. So, God bless those who try.

    Sometimes I think it is an absolute miracle that things even hold together for as long and as well as they do (and I guess I must have developed some pretty low survival standards along the way!), and I’m beginning to believe that that itself might be a sign of God’s mysterious and unseen ever-present presence working among and through us (beings “created in His image” as we are). Is this possibly another picture of the way His faithful love toward us helps us all minute by minute,…He sheds the sun and the rain and His faithful love and presence on the just and the unjust alike, ALL the time,…and we don’t even notice it? When I think of it that way, I’m grateful for the amount of peace and freedom (to be flawed and imperfect and to keep trying) that we do have, even if there is plenty of (as in, way too much) interfering static, like ALL the time.

    This reminds me of two things: (1) being a mother, steadily loving and being bonded with a lot of nutty little beings under her care, living in the midst of plenty of chaos, and still finding peace within and faithful love and hope for each and every one,…and (2) those crazee scientists in Switzerland, smashing atoms and accelerating those sub-atomic particles at incredible velocities, to find what exactly?,…some ultimate universal magnetism (or “glue”) that holds this world all together???,…that you can then write down like a mathematical formula on a little piece of paper???,… btw, … His name is GOD … and He IS really amazing … (and there is a much easier and much less expensive way to actually find Him!)

    Well,…I can pray for the world, and I can try to love the world (which works better with the TV off!),…and I can have faith that God is trying to work through the people who try to speak out in His name,…no one person, even a well-intentioned Christian (seeing “in part,” as we do, and not many of us “wise,” also true), will ever have “all the perfect answers and solutions” for the world. And God strongly advises us:

    2 Corinthians 13:1 “ … By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established.”

    Humility in the midst of all this is our unavoidable true reality. We can do our little bit, give it our best shot, and the rest is up to God to put it all together,…the speakers with the hearers, thoughts going forth to the minds, hearts and understanding.

    I DO have faith that greater wisdom lies deep within many of us, along with a hunger, that is not particularly obvious from the outside, and also is not fooled by all the surface foolishness and vanity,…and which, at any fortuitous moment, may be touched and reached and connected and integrated with God’s purposes for the greater benefit of all. This wisdom-in-the-heart is more trustworthy, and transcends the limits of our natural understanding and feeble attempts at expression.

    God’s truth in the heart is a valuable asset, to be handled with care assuredly, but also to be recognized, respected,…and not to be easily dismissed.

    I’m sure God is “at work” in all of this. Those of us who know and love Him already, are already steadily blessed. He is desiring a new and further harvest, and continues to send forth (sneak?) His Words out into the dry land. This may be much less about “politics” than we realize.

    I’m having faith (and hope) for a good victory,…but I’m also trusting God,…even, “come what may,”…

  5. Georgie-ann

    1 Corinthians 1:27 “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.”

  6. Georgie-ann

    Yesterday, I was thinking more on the difficulty that Christians have in discussing their “truth” with unbelievers, especially unbelievers in powerful positions. The effort to be truthful, to be clear, to not compromise meaning, and even expressing “simple” sincerity and joy, when put forth before a strong and determined resistance often comes out sounding combative, self-righteous, even sometimes distorted in the attempt.

    The bible tells us “not to cast our pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6), lest they “turn and rend us” Well, it’s quite obvious that this happens often in public discourse. Maybe this is why we are advised to let the Holy Spirit speak through us when actively confronted, rather than premeditate and worry beforehand. (And I wonder, how do you not worry after?)

    Mark 13:11 “But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.”

    The condescending, discrediting, and withering/unsupportive attitude of most unbelievers is a difficult stance to face, as well as their pretense that they have “reason” and practicality on their side.

    1 Corinthians 2:6 “The words we speak to those who have grown in the faith are wise. Our words are different from the words of the wise people or rulers of this world. People like that aren’t going anywhere.”

    It is virtually impossible “for the twain to meet.” How difficult this is.

    Psalm 1

    1 “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

    2 “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

    3 “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

    4 “The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.

    5 “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.

    6 “For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

    So, yesterday, as I continued to think on these things, it seemed the Lord said to me, “So, do you realize what it means that people are ‘dead in their sins and trespasses?'”

    Ephesians 2:1-3
    1 “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.”

    The nature of our enemy is cold death (and hatred and opposition to life and truth). Our enemy is a lifeless/dead enemy, and so are the minds of his servants (human and demonic). He (satan) has nothing, (and has created nothing), except what his malignant forces of envy and hatred and jealousy can steal, and twist, and distort, as in life and energy and health (of mind and body) that he wrests and cons away from us. His magnetism is always negative, accompanied by a strong suction ability, and I can imagine a strong lens to distort truth, honesty and sincerity, and even love, as well.

    What a difficult vibe and challenge to “stand up to.” Even “the best of the best” will have a difficult time radiating the fullness of God’s glory before such as these.

    Lord, I pray that you will protect and help and guide your servants in this hour. I pray that our eyes may be opened to see and understand the ways in which you are leading us. Help us to be wise and lead us supernaturally through the many obstacles facing us and the world in this hour. If you have a special servant (or servants), a David for the world’s Goliath, bless and anoint and protect him/her, and help us to pray and have faith accordingly. Lord we are nothing and have nothing without you. Be with us each day, lead, guide and protect, we pray. Amen.

  7. Georgie-ann

    p.s. I like Nancy Reagan’s simple concept: “Just say no.”

    The more people who “just say no” to the dead/lifeless/energy draining offerings of “the enemy,” — be it turning off the constant negative stuff on the TV, refusing to join wasted peers in languid permissive excesses, etc etc etc — and who regain their own personal integrity and authority over themselves, the less loose energy and life force satan will have to “work with” to spread his messes.

    I think one of the bigger problems in this hour, is that generations born into this (for them, pre-existing) complex situation, have no clue really as to what is “normal”/healthy and what are the misleading dangers and attitudes. It’s very difficult for them to sort it all out. But just saying “no” en masse to a lot of misguided ideas and proposals, would be a very healthy way to begin re-grouping,…and the need for us all to re-group is becoming more and more necessary, each and every day.

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