We Don't Need to be Balanced People

We just need to be around other people.

Over the years, I've been told many times that my writing is too extreme. I don't often take a moderating approach choosing instead to make brazen accusations and less than charitable criticisms.

I'm told that the better way is one of balance--that honey catches more flies than vinegar and so forth. It's the idea of letting the pendulum slow to a comfortable pace without wildly swinging in people's faces. Perhaps a sacred cow or two needs to be toppled, but this can be done just as easily with a gentle push as it can a baseball bat.

Real dumb wisdom.

Apart from the fact that a diet of honey will make you diabetic, balance is only good for maintaining the status quo.

When my daughter runs down the sidewalk, my wife and I remind her where the boundaries are. And like any toddler, she occasionally ignores us and continues frolicking along like the fraggle she is. We could keep telling her to come back for another twenty seconds, but the status quo has shifted from inside the boundaries to outside of them.

Cue the out-of-shape, fat dad run-and-wheeze.

Not an unusual parent thing to do, but physically removing her from a situation rather than persuading her out of it is comparably extreme. I changed the status quo. Sometimes doing this is necessary with children who haven't developed critical thinking skills. And sometimes it's necessary with adults who aren't good at theirs.

Most of us don't like change. Change indicates that we might be wrong about something, so we get defensive and hard of hearing. We saw this played out not long ago during the Civil Rights movement. Few people today remember Martin Luther King, Jr. as a bad guy even though the things he did were considered extreme at the time--especially by evangelicals.

But imagine if Dr. King had taken a more balanced approach. Instead of pointing fingers, what if his approach was meek and non-confrontational? No marches, no letters from jail, nothing. Where would black people be today? Furthermore, where would we be if Jesus and the prophets hadn't been extreme individuals?

Comparing religious leaders to snakes and graveyards is not the definition of civil discourse. The rest of the prophets were either exiled or executed for their words. Of course, I'm no prophet, but I'm not wrong about how the Bible presents extremism either.

Think about that balanced life nonsense and you'll likely think of the fruit of the Spirit. They're the cliched response to any impassioned Facebook rant. Call anyone out lately? That's not loving. Bring up any difficult social issues? That's not joyful. Criticized any theology? That not peaceful, that's divisive.

Jesus did all of those things, yet we celebrate the unity we have in him. He also said that he would divide fathers and sons, mothers and daughters. And we stubbornly claim to understand what he means by peace.

Don't misunderstand me as saying that ranting is a spiritual gift or that Jesus wants us to make as many enemies as possible. Even passion gets stupid sometimes. But the solution is not a lobotomy or coerced conformity in the name of "submitting to the spirit".

The solution is unity. It's interacting with different kinds of people with different experiences and humbly allowing yourself to be influenced them. You might call it church. It's the opposite of conformity because it requires diversity to operate. If only there was a good analogy to illustrate these differences working together in unison.

Like the body of Christ. As Paul said, not all are prophets or teachers but rather each of us has an individual purpose that fulfills the larger purpose of the body. We don't need to be balanced people because we were never charged with being that body on our own. We need only accept that we have different roles to play within it.

The only reason extremism is discouraged is because too many Christians define unity as conformity. They want a tepid, happy middle where everyone is a benign appendix that doesn't cause any trouble. It makes for an easy, checklist faith that hijacks Christ's purpose for our own lifeless agenda.

Some things need to be said that you won't say. That's why God made people like me. And some things need to be done that I can't do. That's why he made people like you. Together, we accomplish the same purpose in different ways. Together, we balance the body. Certainly, we ought to hold each other accountable, but let's be sure it's to that purpose and not our preferred methods. Lest we think a body can function as a floating pair of hands.

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