This article is prompted by the confusion and cry of desperation from genuine believers who have contacted me, those who are trying to get centered and find balance in Christ in this world of conflict. Christians are resident alien/ambassadors in a humanistic society infected by the blatant worship of Man. It is a society that elevates the potential and betterment of man. What we must come to grips with and get honest about is how the satanic poison from this infectious disease of self-betterment has become a spiritual pandemic in the professing church.
Many well meaning teachings in the professing church have in some shape or form been infected by this disease of self-betterment—causing much confusion in people’s lives. The one I want to focus on is the teaching on the “Balanced Christian Life” that has so many believers laboring/working to exhaustion in order to achieve this “how to” formula. I have read many articles on the balanced Christian life. The teachings go something like this: “Are you so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good? Are you so earthly minded that you are no heavenly good? If so, your spiritual life is out of balance.”
In a distortion of the biblical teachings on completeness or wholeness, these teachings say that it is only when individuals are in good physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual condition, that they can be said to be whole, complete, balanced and healthy. Because we have so many different parts of our lives; family, friends, career, finances, health/self-care, fun, personal and spiritual growth to name just a few, maintaining balance between them can be very difficult.
And then, we have the infamous four wheels of the balanced Christian life teaching, which says:
One way to think about your overall health is by using the analogy of an automobile. Cars have four wheels and it’s important that they be perfectly balanced for a smooth ride, the physical (rest, nutrition, activity, work, exercise, and recreation), the psychological (emotional), the relational (family, spouse, children, friends, co-workers), and the spiritual all must be brought into perfect balance.
Evaluating these samplings of the many teachings on the subject of the balanced Christian life it is obvious why many people are frustrated. I cannot see anywhere in the Scriptures where God has charged us with the responsibility of balancing or even better said, “micro-managing” our lives during this earthly sojourn. These teachings without knowing it are espousing ideas that are rooted in the Man/earth centered, human potential jargon of this society—where the spiritual life is viewed only as a part of the whole, instead of the whole. And it has caused people to live disjointed spiritual lives, focusing on primarily themselves to become successful managing and building their lives as Christians in this fallen world.
As I evaluate the lives of our Lord Jesus and His apostles, and faithful believers throughout history, I do not see this tension. In one of his famous quotes CS Lewis said: “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for this present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think about the other world that they have become so ineffective in this world.”
I am not downplaying the responsibilities of a Christian husband to his wife, or a wife’s responsibilities to her husband, or the responsibilities of Christian fathers and mothers to their children. But as I evaluate the teachings from Jesus and His apostles on these responsibilities, I believe that we must see them as the fruit and end of our Christian faith, instead of as an end in themselves.
We see this big picture perspective modeled in Jesus’ response to His disciples concerning food. In John chapter four, after Jesus ministered to the woman at the well His disciples came to Him urging Him to eat something. Jesus responded:
“I have food to eat of which you do not know. My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work. Do you not say, there are still four month’s then comes the harvest? Behold I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields for they are already white to harvest” (John 4:31, 34, 35).
The Lord lived a life of perfect balance. His call to His disciples was to see food in its proper perspective and not be distracted from the real task at hand.
The Lord Jesus instructed us in Matthew 6:25:
“Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not your life more than food and your body more than clothing?’
In a summation of verses 26-32, on why we should take no thought for our lives, in verse 33 Jesus said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. And in verse 34 we are told, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things, sufficient for the day is its own troubles.”
The command to us is to see our lives in this world from its proper perspective and not be distracted from the real task at hand. The Greek words for “take no thought’ have been translated as: not being anxious, careful, or worrying about our every day life. But they are also warnings against one’s mind being diverted, distracted and pulled in conflicting directions from the point of our life in this world, creating confusion and conflict. The words also warn against the dividing and disuniting one’s life in sections, making a difference between the different areas of life that we see today, that is causing so much confusion.
We know for certain that the apostle Peter was married because he had a mother in law (Matthew 8:14). The apostle Paul who was not married asked the Corinthians whether he had the right to take a believing wife (1 Corinthians 9:5) as did the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas (Peter).” From this we can assume that Peter was not the only one to have a wife. In response to Jesus’ words to the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-23) Peter said in verse 27, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have? In verses 28-29 Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands for my names sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.
The apostle Paul in his teaching to the church at Corinth, I believe, puts the tensions of these responsibilities in their proper perspective (1 Corinthians 7:29-34). In verse 29 he wrote: “But this I say brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should live as though they had none.” In verses 31-34:
“And those who use the things of this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away. But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord-how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world-how he may please his wife.
There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world-how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction.”
In verse 17, Paul had commanded the believers at Corinth to willingly accept the marital condition and social situations into which God had placed them and be content to serve Him there.
In Ephesians 5:1-2 Paul said, “Therefore be imitators of God dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a sweet smelling aroma.” In verse 22 of Ephesians 5, he said: Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord, and in verses 25-30 he said:
“Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands out to love their own wives as their own bodies, he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does His church.”
These words speak of a husband’s responsibility and desire for his wife to grow and mature in Christ that she may perfectly conformed to His image.
In Chapter 6:1-4 Paul said:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise: that it may go well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
In verse 4, he sums up the responsibility of a Christian father:
“And to you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and Admonition of the Lord.” That the children also may grow and mature in Christ and be perfectly conformed to His image. The goal of God’s predetermined purpose for His own is that they be made like Jesus Christ. This is the prize of the upward call seeing this life in this world in its proper perspective (Roman 8:29; Philippians 3:14).
Today Does Matter
The 33 years that Jesus lived on this earth was lived toward one hour of time in John 12:23-28:
[Jesus said,]“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Most assuredly I say to you unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow me; and where I am, there my servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My father will honor. Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this PURPOSE I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”
Just as the Lord Jesus, we are to live our lives on this earth toward one hour of time. Our hour is the consummation of His hour:
“Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Luke 12:40).
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3).
Your future is the fruit of your TODAY OR RIGHT NOW.
If you are not focused on and prepared for the coming of Christ TODAY/RIGHT NOW, AT THIS PRESENT MOMENT you will not be READY (in position) on that DAY AND HOUR.
Prepared means to be fit, adjusted, and set in order. To be set in order is to be living a balanced Christian life, which is a life that is lived in remembrance of the price that Jesus paid to redeem our lives from destruction. It is being forever mindful of the greatness of the sacrifice. It is constantly calling to mind our condition when Christ died, remembering that we were enemies of God because of sin, cut off from the life of God, damned and sentenced to hell for eternity. And worst of all we were totally helpless to do anything about it (1 Corinthians 11:24-26; Isaiah 53:4, 5, 10; Romans 5:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; Ephesians 2:11-13).
In gratitude we are to live a godly life, which means we are to live reverently, loyally, and obediently before God and Man. That includes husbands, wives, children, family, friends and co-workers (Matthew 5:16; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 1:13-16; 2:11, 12). We are to, faithfully share-earthly minded in the Lord’s work in a manner that is worthy to be believed.
Pursuing Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the souls of men, women, and children should consume our lives (Matthew 25:21; 1 Corinthians 15:58; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Ephesians 5:15-16). And lastly we are live expectantly-heavenly minded, preoccupied with, fixated on, watching, waiting, longing, looking for, and loving the Lord’s appearing which is the blessed hope of the believer (Matthew 25:13; Luke 2134-36; John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 5:6; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28).
A balanced Christian life is living the life, working on earth, and watching the sky.
There is no room or time for distractions from the point of our lives in this world. If you are not prepared (fit, adjusted and set in order NOW, you will not be READY (in position) to be satisfied on THAT DAY AND HOUR.
Satisfaction is the fulfillment of a longing. Whatever your preoccupation, fixation, and longing is NOW it will be on THAT DAY AND HOUR.
The real question for us all is this: If you knew exactly what DAY AND HOUR the Lord was to return; how would you be living on that DAY AND HOUR?
COMMITTED TO AUTHENTICITY.