By Mark A. Taylor
In every area of life, it seems, balance is the most elusive of goals.
When I give time to personal Bible study and prayer, too often I compensate by giving up sleep or getting to work late.
When I exercise like I should, I fall behind in my reading.
When I eat fewer sweets, I fill the gap with fat or salt.
And it’s not any easier for the church.
How do we reach biblical illiterates and at the same time help lifelong Christians grow deeper?
How do we grow the church at home as well as across the world?
How do we obey the Bible’s mandates for both social action and evangelism?
I remember a Christian magazine editor almost 30 years ago saying, “You can tell whether a Christian is a liberal or a conservative by which part of the Bible he disobeys.” That was a fellow who thought balance is impossible!
When you think about it, you realize much of life is spent compensating for a lack of balance. Or arguing about what balance really looks like.
In the church we use labels to question those we call out of balance. “Liberal.” “Fundamental.” “Faith only.” “Charismatic.” There’s a sense in which I want to be each of those, but I’d run from being called any of them.
Time has a way of redefining the issues. I remember what a strong advocate I used to be for spanking as a means of child discipline. Three decades later I look back at my parenting and think today I would spank less.
I remember how frustrated my fellow employees were when our company had no annual review procedure. And now some of them complain because they say the plan we’ve created is arbitrary or unfair.
Years ago James Dobson pled for evangelicals to get involved in government, because only mainline churches sent representatives to Washington policy hearings. Now every newsmagazine describes the right wing Christian voting bloc. And Christian Standard has a piece questioning how Christian leaders should participate in politics.
It’s really an issue of balance.
Please don’t overlook the qualifiers Darrel Rowland and Jack Reese include in their articles this week. Each of these brothers holds dear the lordship of Christ and the authority of the Bible. Out of that conviction they’re asking us to engage our culture without allowing it to distract us from our first love and our primary mission.
They are not advocating that we ignore issues or disengage from the process. They’re simply challenging us to commit to one of the most challenging pursuits of all: balance.