"You sure do go to church a lot," was the comment from one of my friends the other day as I walked out the door to a mid-week church service. I didn't really know how to reply and mumbled something about being "committed" as I breezed out the door.
Her comment, though, has been bothering me a bit over the last few weeks. Not because who said it, but the underlying message that is behind it.
American church culture is all about balance; everything in moderation etc. I think some of this is the church's reaction to how over-the-top we Amercians are about everything in life. And I agree, to a certain extent, that extremes can very often be bad for people. If we work too much, we neglect other important parts of our lives. If we eat too much it's not healthy for our bodies. I agree that living too far to one extreme or another in most areas of our lives is not good.
But there is one area of my life I will *never* apologize for being out of balance in: my relationship with the Lord. In fact, we are called to be out of balance. We are *supposed to be* out of balance. We are supposed to be crazy, radical, sold-out, dying to ourselves, giving our lives away, serving till it hurts, and pouring out our lives....This is the one extremism that not only should be OK, it IS OK.
The first commandment ever given to us is to love the Lord our God with ALL of our heart, with ALL of our soul, with ALL of our mind, with ALL of our strength. Not a whole lot of "balance" there. Yet the American church, steeped in entitlements and "rights" is permeated with this idea of balance.
The church I attend has been accused of not being balanced enough. Balanced with what? Balanced with the world? Balanced with sin? Balanced with "self"? I am not sure what else in life I should be about if I am not about loving God and loving my neighbors. I WANT to be sold-out, I WANT to be radical, I WANT to be on fire! Do we look so extreme because the so many churches are asleep! Maybe we're what the church's level of fire SHOULD be.
Can you imagine, for a moment, being transported back in time to the disciples who were walking and talking with Jesus in flesh and someone saying to them "You sure are around Jesus a lot." Heck, there probably WERE people in the disciples lives saying that. But no one true believe would say this now. But, isn't this what my friend was implying when she asked me?
This should have been my reply to my friend: "I go because I want to meet with Jesus. I'm hoping he'll be there and I don't want to miss him!"
So, for me, when I head out the door to a church service in the middle of the week, or I chose not to see a movie because it is blatantly anti-Christian (or even more subtly not glorifying), or work as little as possible so I can be in ministry more frequently, or get up early to read my Bible it is because I WANT to live that "extreme" and "out of balance."
Of course if I am doing any of those things for the wrong reasons, then I am in sin.
There are times when we need to do things that are not directly related to loving and serving the Lord. Eating, sleeping, exercising, and going to work are some examples I can think of. Though I will say this is a tough category and can be a slippery slope when some of these things take priority over my relationship with the Lord.
I am not juding anyone else's level of fiery-ness; that's between them and the Lord.
But as for me, go ahead, call me out of balance, call me wacky, call me crazy...There's nothing else I'd rather be if it means I am drawing closer the the one my heart desires above all.