May 30, 2010
The Balancing Act
Over the years I’ve known many people who were praised for being “balanced” and I’ve always been somewhat bewildered at this. When a pastor or teacher is said to be “balanced,” by today's standards they are considered by all to be exceptionally wise, knowledgeable, and trustworthy. A church that has the reputation of being “balanced” is usually considered by people as a safe and comfortable environment in which one could grow spiritually. In the Christian world the term “balanced” is perhaps one of the highest compliments a person or institution could receive. At the same time, the term “imbalanced” has become one of the lowest accusations of our generation.
I think it’s no secret to anyone that Darin Hufford and The Free Believers Network has been accused of being imbalanced by more than one person over the years. When I read a review on The Misunderstood God or a comment posted on one of my blogs, it’s not uncommon to see this popular and predictable hand-grenade flying through the air. It has become an all-time favorite accusation.
I think that the words “balanced” or “imbalanced” have become toxic Christian buzz words that were specifically designed to cause people to either instantly sell their soul without hesitation or automatically shut themselves down emotionally. The word and the topic are right up there with “bitterness”, “rebellious”, and “heretic” in most peoples eyes; and that did not happen by accident. This particular buzz word is particularly unique in the respect that its power is just as effective on the positive side as it is on the negative. When a person is given the title of “balanced” they gain immediate respect and honor from the people. On the flip side, when a person is called “imbalanced” they are instantly disrespected and looked upon with contempt. It’s that unforgiving and absolute!
If you really think about it, there’s only one scenario where “finding the balance”or the middle ground would be the smart thing to do, and that would be in a scenario where you haven’t got a clue one way or another what the truth is. If you aren’t sure either way what the truth is, it would be smart to position yourself right in the middle. That way you’re just as far from being wrong as you are from being right. It’s the safest place to park when you’re completely ignorant and you know it.
I believe that this is precisely why so many sincere and well meaning Christians desperately seek balance the way they do. Because of the many hype-filled and difficult to understand teachings in our generation, people today have absolutely no idea who God is and how He relates with us. We’ve been told so many radical, off the wall, contradicting stories about Him, and we’ve been fed so many lies, cons, and threats, that most of us just don’t know what to believe anymore. One week we’re told that He loves us and would never leave us, and the very next week we’re told that He will turn His face from us if we make one little mistake. After years of this, it’s easy to see why Christians would seek out a balanced preacher. It’s not that they’re looking for truth anymore; I believe for the most part people are just looking for relief. Who can blame them?
I believe that this is the reason why modern day Christianity lifts up “balanced teachers.” They’re looking for someone to make them feel safe. They’re also looking for someone who won’t force them into having an opinion on anything because most of us have lost confidence in our ability to do so. My complaint with the "balanced preacher" mentality is that I feel for the most part, it's a cop out and an excuse to NOT have an opinion. I understand that there may be two opposing views on any one subject, and I understand that both sides may be completely wrong, but I have a ton of respect for both sides because at least these people's opinions are their own. At least they have an opinion and they voiced it. The middle-ground-teacher that we've come to respect so much, didn’t even do that. He just sized up the opinions of others and then found a middle place to park. I would honestly rather be passionately wrong than apathetically empty. Though balanced teachers certainly bring a much needed relief to hurting and scared Christians I personally feel that our appetite for balance has become the spiritual sedative that has put Christianity it its present day medicated coma. We've become accustomed to NOT challenging ourselves in our beliefs, and we've preferred the feeling of comfort over the thrill of risk.
I think that because of the apparent call for "balanced teachers" in today's religious circles, many men and women have made a heartless business out of it. They are nothing more than professional card-counters. They’ve figured out the best way to play spiritual Black Jack without losing every hand. Just count what cards have already been played and calculate the probabilities of what may be coming next and go from there. It’s a feeble mathematical attempt to at least put yourself somewhere in the vicinity of truth once all the cards are played. “Balance” is nothing more than an algebraic estimate based on a vague knowledge of all the popular opinions on any given subject. As long as no one can pin anything on you when the teaching is done; it's a success.
Think rationally about this. TRUTH is not balanced. It just IS. To suggest that you could bring a balance to truth is to suggest that truth is movable or that it can be manipulated by human hands. Truth needs balance about as much as your name needs balance. It just doesn’t make sense to believe that there needs to be a balance to truth. I believe it makes perfect sense that someone who knows NOT the truth would seek balance in any teachings about truth because they’re looking at it as they would an abstract speculation or a concept, and balance makes them feel safe. They may not be close to knowing the truth, but at least they’re not too far from knowing it either. They’re somewhere in the middle where it’s safe and secure. I think people find themselves in this position not because they are unable to see truth but because they don't trust themselves to see it. Once you find truth however, the scales are completely taken away. Truth is what it is. You don’t balance it with anything else. My heart is to encourage a generation of timid and shy Christians to trust in their ability to hear and know God once again an imbalanced take a leap of faith towards something deeper than what they have today.
Some people have become so addicted to "balanced teaching" that they'll actually go into a rage when confronted with truth, because authentic truth doesn't possess the balanced qualities that their spiritual equilibrium has become accustomed to. What are people really saying when they claim that a preacher of grace is not balanced in what he or she teaches? When I present God as love and I give illustration after illustration showing His heart for people and how they are the apple of His eye; what exactly is the critic meaning when he says that “I need to bring a balance" to my teaching? It sounds to me like he’s saying I've made God just a little too nice and I need to add some mean and scary stuff in the mix to bring about a balance.
If I say that God is approachable some folks actually want me to balance that with unapproachable. If I say He has forgiven you completely and has taken away all your sins, I’m supposed to also say that He still has a few sins that He’s holding over your head. If I preach that God will never leave us or forsake us, I need to balance that with the words “unless” or “if” in my statement. If you really think about it, it’s pretty easy to tell exactly what a person means when they accuse someone else of being unbalanced. Just look at the opposite of what's being preached and THAT is what they want you to balance your message with. Believe it or not that's exactly what they're saying. I believe this is the sad result of needing balance at any cost.
For years I’ve watched people try to balance freedom. An effort to balance freedom is nothing less than an effort to take it away or destroy it altogether. An effort to balance grace is an effort to snuff it out completely. An attempt to balance security is merely an attempt to assassinate it.
When you hear someone say that a preacher, teacher, or writer is imbalanced, I would encourage you to ask yourself what exactly they are suggesting you throw on the scale in order to bring that balance. If they’re talking about a grace preacher you can pretty much guess that they’re wanting fear and condemnation put on the other end of the scale.
I think the difference between a person who desires balance and a person who doesn’t even consider it when talking about the Heart of God is that to the former person, God is a concept, and to the latter, He’s a person. You don’t ask for balance when talking about a person. Balance cannot be applied to a personality, it’s a concept that can only be applied to a principle.
I have found that Free Believers almost never cry for balance. Someone asked me once if I thought that was because Free Believers were more open minded or more spiritually adventurous. I believe that Free Believers don’t cry for balance because they have received the revelation that TRUTH is not the same as CORRECT. Truth isn’t an IT, Truth is a HIM. That one revelation changes every aspect of our thinking in an instant. It’s like the old Abbot and Costello routine; “Who’s on first, What’s on second.......” It will drive you crazy until you get the revelation that they’re talking about actual names of people, instead of asking questions. I truly believe that this is the revelation that separates Free Believers from the bulk of the Christian religious mindset. You just don’t ask the same questions when you get that. Everything comes into view and makes perfect sense. It’s not about finding balance, it’s about knowing Mr. T. (okay that ending was cheesy, I’m sorry)
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