Friday, August 08, 2008

Restore the Balance!

When I was little, my brother and I used to go to the park at the end of our street and play on a device called a ‘teeter-totter’ It was great fun when we were about the same size and weight. But as he grew, the fun disappeared as things got all out of balance. Because he was bigger, he could take advantage of me, sometimes holding me up in the air, sometimes causing me to land hard on the ground. The result was painful and unpleasant. Being out of balance tends to do that.
We live in a world out of balance. Those with power and strength tend to take advantage of those who are weaker. Those with money victimize the poor. Those in power use their positions for their best advantage. While Jesus taught just the opposite—-to be a servant to all. Where are the servants? Where is the balance?
Jesus operated in perfect balance. He knew his purpose and He kept His focus on fulfilling that purpose. Some might say he was ‘purpose driven.’ I tend to think He was ‘balance driven.’ He understood the need for teamwork and co-operation. That teamwork began at the top and flowed downward. The Godhead worked in perfect balanced precision. Each had a key part to play in the redemption of mankind from the curse of sin. Without that balanced precision, the plan of God would have failed miserably.
Belshazzer was weighed in God’s balances and found wanting, lacking...not measuring up to God’s standards. His life was out of balance. He enjoyed his party life, until something happened that he could not control, could not explain and could not change. While giving a huge drinking party for thousands of his rich friends, he decided to ‘thumb his nose’ at God, asking his servants to bring the holy vessels of gold and silver which were sacred, to be used in the temple. His purpose was for all his guests, both men and women, to drink from them, and to praise gods of his own making, the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. When they began to abuse these holy vessels which were dedicated to the Lord God Jehovah, God’s hand appeared, writing on the banquet hall wall. Belshazzar had stepped over a line. Judgment was about to fall.
Just as King Belshazzar was warned of impending doom upon his kingdom, so today God continues to warn mankind that judgment is coming. All whose lives are out of balance will face the ‘handwriting of God’ as their ‘kingdom’ comes crashing down.

Balance in the church
America has often been compared to Babylon. Although it was a nation founded on Biblical principles, guided by godly men and the local church, it has gradually deteriorated into a nation that no longer reveres God, and instead tolerates compromise, taking what was once sacred, and using it for pleasure, lust, perversion and self-satisfaction. While 90% of Americans say they believe in God, only 47% act like they do, by regularly going to church, and less than that read their Bibles, pray daily, teaching their values to their children. I fault the church for failing to hold the standard high. While not all churches have failed, the majority of churches in America refuse to take a stand against sin, against laws that undermine faith and values, and at the same time fail to model for their people, the God who works in power and might. We need the hand of God writing on the walls of our churches as they party and entertain each other. The church has become a theatre and restaurant instead of a place of spiritual transformation and miracles. It needs to discover that God is still God, that He has power, that He is a jealous God, and that He has power to judge the sinner.
I do not like to see people suffer. However, suffering has a way of restoring values and focus. When the church of God discovers that God sees them, that He cares about them, that He is grieved by their sin, they must repent. Only repentance can change the judgment that is coming. A balanced church teaches a balanced Biblical doctrine, based on a solid foundation of proper Biblical interpretation. A balanced church will be a servant church….not just serving each other, but serving the Lord. Each member of a balanced church will desire to find their place of ministry and do it—no complaining, no excuses, no bargaining. Jesus is lifted high in a balanced church.

Balance in the family
How does the family unit today fail to measure up to God’s standards? For the most part, today, a family consists of a single parent with multiple siblings from multiple fathers. Premarital sexuality, divorce and co-habitation have destroyed what used to be a family in America. Children come home from school to empty homes and wait for their work-a-holic parents to arrive and toss some fast-food supper on the table. It’s both amusing and sad to watch families struggling with trying to be parents in shows like ‘Super Nanny’. Where is God and faith and gentleness motivated by love in these homes? Many had worked so hard to provide a glorious ‘house’ but have no clue how to make it a real ‘home’. They have forgotten how to have fun together. They are so busy being busy.
Belshazzar was raised in a home that had been a godly one. He knew the story well of how his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar had spent 7 years out of his mind until he finally came to his senses and repented to God. But he ignored the warnings. He ‘did his own thing.’ Are you and your family doing your own thing? Or are you setting a godly example for your children and grandchildren? Does it include faithful church attendance. How you choose to spend your time sends a message to those little ones watching you. Your example speaks louder than your words, even if you shout. What do you value most? Take a look at your monthly expenses and see where you spend most of your excess funds—that’s what you value most! How many fail to give generously to God, yet give generously to themselves. The mark of a family that has healthy priorities is one that gives joyfully to God so His work can go forward—-giving time, giving talents, giving material goods, and giving finances. Jesus was a giver. He gave His all. Teach your family to give generously to the Lord.

Personal Balance
It’s one thing to point a finger at the church, and at the family...and another to point it at yourself. Yet everything you do for God begins with a one-on-one relationship with God. Without God in your life, you are already out of balance. As each person in the body of Christ maintains a balance, the whole will also be balanced. God is the balancing point in the ‘teeter-totter’ of life. We each struggle with keeping a balance between the things of the ‘flesh’ and the things of the ‘spirit’. Paul warned the church in Galatia… “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” (NIV) Galatians 5:16,17 The spiritual is at war with the carnal sinful nature in man. But when we learn to identify the sinful, we can steer clear of it. He clearly identifies it: “It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on…..If you use your freedom this way, you will not inherit God's kingdom.” TMB Galatians 5:19-21 The Bible tells us not only what we need to avoid, but also what we need to be like. “But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” TNB (Galatians 5:22-23) When the Holy Spirit is in charge, guiding our daily walk, things are different. The Spirit filled, Spirit-led believer will be growing spiritually, will be spiritually discerning, and will be motivated to do the things that please the Lord. Too often today, Christians tend to tolerate sin in their lives. They loose their tempers, they lie, steal, cheat, and do it all because ‘everyone else is doing it.’ Too many Christians have chosen to live together without the commitment of marriage, have decided even if they did marry, that divorce was their choice to solve their marriage problems. When we fail to thrive spiritually, we fail to maintain a spiritual balance. Flesh dominates the spiritual. Choices become selfish. The world points its finger at the carnal Christian and says “You are no different that me.” We wonder why our friends and family do not want our ‘faith.’ It’s a flawed faith.
Let’s restore the balance—balance in the church, balance in our families and balance in our lives. We will meet many along the way whose lives are out of balance and who will need assistance in steadying their out of balance world. Let’s get back to the basics where balance begins...Jesus Christ!
J. Johnson