Why “Finding the Balance”? Throughout my young adult life, one thing has been commonly put upon my mind as I reflect on important issues in life, and that is simply finding the proper balance to these important issues. This is especially important in topics regarding politics, religion, worldviews, and culture. These are areas that deal with life itself, and can themselves be a matter of life and death. How do we find the right balance to an issue that does not have us falling off the proverbial horse on either side?
Whenever I would consider an issue, I found that there were primarily two positions vying for acceptance. In some cases there were more, but the primary separation was between two parties. Almost as often as I found two separate parties, I also found that I disagreed with both, finding that the two sides tended to have their ups and also had their downs. In some cases, one side had less faults than the other, and visa versa. I am not here saying that I am the standard to judge by which they are right, but the point being made is that where most saw that you are either “left or right” I saw that it didn’t need to be that way.
Black, White and Gray
It is often called a false dichotomy, or a fallacy of false alternatives. If you don’t support universal healthcare, you must hate society, and sick and disabled people, and love big corporations. If you do not support the wars, you must hate the United States, the military and everyone serving. If you support a border wall, you must hate all immigrants. If you don’t support the presidential nominee, you must be in favor of the other. In each of these cases, there is a false dichotomy problem, where not every option is actually considered. Just because I do not support the wars in the Middle East does not mean I think the US military is a bunch of gun-ho, blood thirsty haters of Muslims. And just because I don’t support government-run healthcare does not mean I don’t like disabled people, or very sick people. There are better ways to solve these issues, and I stand for neither of the major sides. Both sides suffer serious imbalances that I cannot afford to help make more imbalanced.
Very often in movies, TV shows, video game plots and various other storytelling outlets, you see things in the plot painted in a sort of black and white scenario, where there is a clear bad guy and a clear good guy. Much like in Star Wars, you have the Light Side and the Dark Side, and it’s very obvious which is which. These are popular story mechanics, but I find that the more interesting stories are the ones that blur the lines, that provide that “gray area” where good and bad are not always that easy to tell, or when the right choice has poor consequences. Why not have three sides fighting for control, with three different views on how to solve the problem? That would cause some real conflict with the main protagonist. Because while one side is clearly unacceptable, two others may be, but which one? This is the sort of thing I try to do in my own novel-writing. In such a scenario, it would be even more complex of a story, and provide a more realistic, if not more interesting plot, because the reality of the matter is that history tells us that there was very rarely (if ever there was) ever a “black and white” scenario, where the good guys were clearly the good guys.
While the Allied powers against the Axis powers were the guys to root for, men like Winston Churchill were not without their great sins and power grabs, particularly Churchill’s dealings with Stalin towards the end of the war, and even before Berlin was captured, all sides were in a race for the city, to be the first to claim the hill. In the French Revolution, one could argue very easily that the population’s revolt against the corrupt aristocracy was just. But they lost all sympathy when they went mad, led by Robespierre in the Reign of Terror.
Even in biblical history, though the patriarchs and apostles were favorite characters to follow, they still had their great sins. The only one who didn’t was Jesus. Otherwise, conflicts are simply not as simple as we make them out to be, not so easily balanced out. It is because of this reality that we need to be careful not to fall too far into leftist extremism, or rightist extremism.
The Narrow Way
It is this necessity of proper balance that I think Jesus meant when He said these words:
[“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”] -Matthew 7:13-14 ESV.
Whenever I read this passage, I have always pictured a man walking down a long, stretched-out bridge, from one side to the other, and the bridge extending across a large canyon. But this bridge has no rail guards to it, and it is very narrow. Too far the left, you fall, and too far to the right, you fall. There is a proper balance that must be walked to get across safely. That is the kind of imagery Jesus is giving us here. So what does he mean? For many years, I struggled with its meaning, but I do believe it carries many applications. The main point is that we must walk this life with the right balance, and an imbalance will cause great trouble and even death.
Take for instance the discussion of the nature of Christ in the fifth century, at the Council of Chalcedon. Two parties were vying for acceptance (it wasn’t so simple, but for the sake of discussion, we will mention just these two), both of which eventually were condemned as heresy. One was Nestorianism, which argued that the human nature of Christ and the divine nature were so divided, that they were indeed separated from one another, arguing that Christ was a duality of persons in one. The other was the Monophysite party, arguing that the divine nature and human nature of Christ are so intimate, that they are fused and mixed with each other.
You see the contrast of both views. The former separates the two natures of Christ to a point that He is two different persons. The ladder joins the two natures in such a way that they become confused, and in essence some kind of mutated hybrid of divine humanity is made. Instead, a balance had to be found, where you do not fall too far into the Nestorian heresy, and then too far into the Monophysite heresy, and so the Chalcedon Creed, which defined the Hypostatic Union of Christ was formed, showing that Christ was truly God and truly man, in such a way that the two natures are not separated, but neither are mixed together.
One of the hardest lines to walk in the Christian life is the walk of faith and grace. Very often we can get caught into feeling that we need to do righteous deeds, and certainly, we are commanded to do, but we also risk becoming too reliant on the law for our position in God’s sight that we fall into legalism. But if we turn that around, and decide to go the other direction into grace, we may go too far and remove the law from any sense of purpose at all, and conclude that because we are forgiven in Christ, we are free to live however we want, and sin however much we want. This also must be avoided.
So the risk here is to emphasize too much of the law, and fall off into legalism, or to emphasize too much of grace, and fall into antinomianism. We must walk that fine balance, which Scripture provides, that salvation is by faith alone in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:19-28) but that that faith is a faith that produces works of repentance and growing faith in the Christian life (Ephesians 2:10).
In the triune nature of God Himself, we must understand that God is both One and Many at the same time. But if we emphasize too much of His Oneness, we risk Unitarianism in the form of modalism, where God’s Oneness overshadows His Manyness and hence the three persons become three modes or mere masks that the one God puts on at various times. On the other hand, if we emphasize too much of God’s Manyness, we risk forms of trithesim (three gods) or polytheism. We must have the right balance, a balance that Scripture provides, between the One and the Many of God. In the Trinity do we find true balance of unity.
You see how in these important matters (and there are countless more), we must be able to find the right balance. In essence, what this blog/project of mine is meant to be is to be me speaking genuinely how I feel about issues regarding religion, theology, politics, culture (and as a bonus, I’d like to talk about writing, art and related topics as hobbies I enjoy). The gospel is the primary focus of all my writing, and it is the biblical conviction of finding the proper balance in every situation that drives me. Because as I see the world unfold, I see that there is a scale, and most people end up on one side or the other. We need to remove ourselves from the think tank of the standard talking points of each imbalanced side, and take the biblical view, allowing it to define our categories, our worldview, and to give us the tools to find that straight road, that balance that brings forth life, truth and understanding.