It seems that ‘balance’ is a word that is being thrown around a lot these days. We seek a balanced coverage of the news while we eat a balanced diet ensuring that we have a good work/life balance and worry about balancing the budget. What confuses me is – can we become too excessive about balance and if so, how do we balance our obsession to be balanced?
Jesus in my opinion was not particularly balanced. He was single-minded with a vision and a purpose to establish the kingdom of God. He was passionate about bringing truth to the established religion and grace to the world. I also think of people like Martin Luther King Jr who led a civil rights movement in a most unbalanced manner. Mother Theresa, Martin Luther … the list could go on.
Biblical balance is about the people of God, His church, fulfilling the great commission without over-emphasis on one particular area of ministry, and Christian experience yet with an unbalanced zeal!
Ephesians 4:11-13, James 2:14-26, 1 Corinthians 12 all inform my understanding of this but it is the fruit of churches that approach their mission with unbalanced passion and a balanced approach that convince me.
The theme of this issue is Head, Heart and Hands and emphasises the need to have a balance in our approach to ministry. However, what do these three words mean in the context of ministry?
There is little doubt that a sound understanding of the word of God and a sound systematic theology are paramount in the Christian life and in any ministry. Paul exhorts us to move from milk to bread, and tackle the meatier aspects of faith.
In my opinion a sound, deep understanding of scripture and theology are vital to a healthy church. But at some stage you have to ask yourself the question, ‘When was the last time I wrestled with a passage of scripture or a social issue?’ Sometimes we just stop stretching ourselves, we start thinking we know enough, or we have our theology sorted and our head knowledge becomes dogma.
Head knowledge should be vibrant and developing constantly, always allowing ideas to be challenged and informed by commentators, fellow-believers and the Bible.
Other questions to ask are, ‘When was the last time I felt the presence of God? When was the last time God manifested in a church service in a powerful beautiful way?’ It may have been in the healing of a friend or a child, seeing a friend convicted by the spirit of God and coming to faith, a powerful worship service or a yearning/passion for an area of ministry.
Heart is the experience of God that inspires, refuels and builds your faith. It is the miraculous nature and the awesomeness of God felt and/or seen.
Again, sometimes we spend time with God at church or in our quiet time and never really experience Him. You may lack a passion for service and feel flat. God is there, but you desire a more intimate relationship with Him. You may need to engage your heart a little more and experience your faith.
There has been a positive movement toward engagement by the church with social issues, everything from the environment, sexuality, politics, poverty and problems within religious institutions.
Where once our engagement, and I generalise here, was simply evangelistic, now the engagement is about expanding the Kingdom of God through addressing social issues and bringing the message and presence of God into areas previously out of bounds or off limits to the church.
Baptist churches have a great history of this and continue to do so. We realise that together we can impact on the world in a positive way and eagerly desire to do so. However, we have also fallen foul on occasion either by not engaging and focusing on just preaching the Gospel which can come across as a voice of judgement and hate, or engaging too much and not being guided by the Word of God, and rather than being a voice of hope and grace, being a voice of indifference or blind acceptance.
Balance is allowing all of these areas to join together and guide us in the direction that God desires us to move: to allow our heads to guide our hands and our hearts to inspire our heads; to know injustice when we see it and passionately stand against it.
I am excited by the Revive conference this year as it is a practical out working of this balance. We want to be challenged in our understanding of the word through amazing teaching and workshops, to be inspired through encountering and experiencing the risen Jesus and the Holy Spirit and join together as a denomination to get our hands dirty for Jesus.