I’m such a blog delinquent. At least I can blame our bad power and internet in part. But the truth is that we are just really enjoying Season 4 of Friends. Now that we’ve suffered through the trauma of Ross and Rachel in Season 3, we are just happily spending our nights watching this great American classic.
A friend of mine is planning a women’s retreat in a few weeks and asked me to make a video devotional for the ladies to ponder. Being completely unqualified for this, I of course said yes. The topic is balance, and it came about because the ladies feel (as most involved in church ministry do) overwhelmed by all the demands of service in the Christian life – wanting to serve but not knowing how to find time in their already busy lives.
The final product is still being refined and is different from this post, but I had some cool revelations while preparing.
I think the answer to this balance issue depends upon where we line up on this initial question.
What makes our lives feel out of balance? I see two possible answers.
- I’m a Christian so I know I *should* be doing more to live out my faith.
- I feel uncomfortable about the way my life looks when I read God’s Word.
I’ve answered both ways in my life at different times. While I’m no expert, God has shown me a few things.
The good news to answer # 1 is that we should not serve out of guilt. We need to stop feeling like we *need* to add things to our lives. We need to live free in the liberty for which God has set us free. There’s no condemnation. No should. As Church-going Christians, I think this is a huge issue. We are constantly bombarded with opportunities to sign up, volunteer, donate, and we start to feel guilty. But signing up out of guilt will never bring us joy or freedom, and it’s not the kind of fast the Lord has chosen for us.
When we react out of *shoulds* we are missing the point, and also, we are offending the Lord. The religious leaders were always acting out of guilt, thus offending God with their vain sacrifices and offerings. Obedience that’s acceptable to the Lord is that which is done out of a transformed life. It’s done in joy and love for Jesus and desire to be like him. He was a servant, and when we walk in the Spirit, we desire to serve others.
If we don’t yet have that desire, our job is not to sign up to work at VBS because we want to start another initiative of service in our lives. Our job is to get to the bottom of this lack of joy, freedom and love.
At times I’ve needed to step back to look at the truth that I don’t have a lot of love for my brothers and sisters and therefore have no desire to serve them. I’ve had to face my idol of self and allow the Holy Spirit to break down that idol to let love of others fill my soul. I’ve also had times where I’ve been able to identify rebellion in my life that was stealing my freedom in Christ. I often struggle to trust that God’s way is the best way for me.
If I am truly filled with the Holy Spirit and in love with Jesus, my passion for his people should be contagious, right? It should flow out of me at such a rate that I can barely catch up. If I am spending a lot of time trying to conjure up love for others (be it my family member, an orphan, my colleague, a homeless person) or if I’m doing “service projects” because I am “supposed to.” I am missing the point, and it would be better for me to just stay home and watch TV.
If this is where I am, I don’t have a balance problem. I have a Jesus problem.
Now at other times, I’ve been in group #2. I’ve found that “holy anxiety” is a clue that it’s time for action!
The first thing that God has shown me is that balance is a worldly concept. It’s a god of the world. Jesus is extreme. He’s a radical.
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Jesus talks in black and white. If you don’t love him, you hate him. If you try and save your life, you will lose it.
Jesus wants ALL of us. He doesn’t want his commands to occupy an initiative in our life. He doesn’t want a few hours at a soup kitchen and church on Sunday. He wants full-access radical life from us. He wants me to choose him over my husband, my kid, my health, my work. He wants me to say that I will do ANYTHING, go ANYWHERE. No holding back reckless abandon.
How is that possible?
With God, all things are possible. The Holy Spirit’s power is in me! If I believe that the Holy Spirit created time, then time does not limit his work. My energy level is irrelevant. If martyrs sing through the pain of being skinned alive and a human being can fast for 60 days without food, then my physical body cannot limit God’s work. Not even death can stop God. What would my life look like if I truly believed that I could do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me?
I need to stop thinking about balance. I do need to embrace the holy anxiety that I was made for more than work meetings, date nights, play dates and church on Sunday. I am meant to change the world. To be Jesus to those around me. To GO and make disciples. I cannot stay home or within my family. I must go out. I must engage. And I must do it 100%.
My prayer for myself is that I will become so impassioned with love for Jesus that will be my leading characteristic when someone describes me. I was made for this!