Alex was the August presenter at our monthly businessmen’s luncheon. He is usually clear and thought provoking and this was not exception. Questions: “What is the Christian Life?” and “What is a balanced life?” and “What factors should we keep in balance?” My thinking was challenged by Alex to try to answer these questions backwards. He proposed that we keep seven factors in balance: (1) Financial, (2) Family, (3) Mental, (4) Work, (5) Social, (6) Physical and (7) Spiritual. I thought of how round the rim of my wheel would be if these seven factors were the spokes. There are clearly times in my life when my wheel would have given me a pretty bumpy ride. I tend to let the social facet of my life get short changed. Lately, I’ve been trying to pump up the physical. You know how it goes. Alex challenged us to think of three goals in each category that would, if achieved, even things out.
That discussion led me to another question: “What is the difference between a balanced Christian life and a balanced non-Christian life?” So I put myself under the microscope to examine what makes each one of these seven categories uniquely Christian? I guess I’m talking about my world view of my inner world. So here are my thoughts. I’d be interested in yours.
(1) Financial: The Christian view of money is that all money is God’s money (I Chronicles 29:10-18 & Deuteronomy 8:17-18) and God gives us the responsibility to manage this money as a steward. I’m glad I went through the Crown Ministries course on personal financial management at my church several years ago. They have a wealth of resources and articles to develop this Christian view of money and wealth.
(2) Family: The Christian sees children as having the basic characteristics of the Kingdom of Heaven and as a unique gift or heritage from God. Psalm 78 speaks of our duty to our children is to preserve the continuance of God’s glory for generations by training them to put their confidence in God. How different this view is from those who see children as a burden. How tragic is the way we take abortions in stride giving very little consideration to God’s view of children. The family unit is so important to God that a man’s management of it qualifies or disqualifies him to exercise leadership in the church.
(3) Mental: On the high end, our minds have the capacity to understand the things of God. On the low end, our mind can be so depraved that it disqualifies us from the faith. Wherever we are on this continuum, our minds are in continual need of renewal, away from the natural way of thinking and toward a supernatural way of thinking.
(4) Work: God intended us to work and for our work to be productive. It is God who makes the work of our hands effective because it is God who works in and through us for His good pleasure. In our church service a few weeks ago, Pastor Patrick Lafferty defined “good works” as “human expressions of God’s character and purpose that display the worth of God to those who do them and to those who receive them.” I like that.
(5) Social: I think the Christian view of people is that some are followers of Christ and others are not. Jesus is the historical watershed that separates everyone into two camps. To be counted as a follower of Christ our goodness must surpass the levels that our own efforts can manage. As individual followers of Christ live out His character, their families become uniquely Christian, then their communities, and their countries. This is how entire societies can be blessed — or not. My job is to love and encourage people, not to judge them. God does the judging. He doesn’t need any more help with that. Jesus is no longer the incarnation of God walking the earth loving people. He does need help with that. So my role, as I see it, is to be an incarnation of God’s character of love and reconciliation.
(6) Physical: My Christian view of my body follows the metaphor of a “temple of the Holy Spirit”. Therefore, I should take good care of it and not abuse it in any way. Wow, can I think of a lot of ways I can neglect or abuse my body (too much sugar, not enough exercise, etc.) Although our bodies are decaying, those who are “in Christ” will at the resurrection from the dead be given a new imperishable body. That’s something to look forward to.
(7) Spiritual: This is probably the most important piece of all, because unlike a “piece” or a “slice of the pie” it the ingredient that makes all the facets of this model unique. The spiritual dimension of life is not something I strive to develop and improve. It results from entrusting myself to God’s care by responding to His provision of forgiveness on the cross. I am born-again by His power. I am made alive spiritually by His grace. I have a resulting relationship with God that the Bible refers to as “abiding.” And so what I do, I do as a result of what He does in and through me, like the sap of a vine producing fruit. That’s my incentive to live my life consistently with His example. So the spiritual life is not striving to be like Jesus, not trying to win God’s favor, not trying to be good, but rather abiding in a relationship with God, getting to know Him more intimately, and as a result, coming to be like Him for his glory and my blessing.
So I challenge myself to live my life in light of these “spokes of the wheel” in a way that is consistently Christian and over the course of my life, with all its twists and contortions, to end up with a balanced benefit of each. But my concern is not so much balance as much as surrender to Him, yieldedness and abiding. I’d be interested in your thoughts on these issues.