Experts are long on advice on how to maintain balance: Draw a clear line between professional and personal life. Set priorities. Establish boundaries. Keep a written schedule. Make lists. Find time to rest. Meditate. Build healthy relationships. Take up a hobby. Enjoy nature. Exercise more. Unless you’re a rat, get out of the rat race.
As far as we know, nobody sought out Jesus for advice on maintaining balance. One day, though, someone approached Jesus with this question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” On the surface, the question appears unrelated to maintaining balance, but he could be asking: “How do I keep life’s stones delicately stacked to get me where I want to go without the whole thing tipping over?”
Jesus reminds the questioner that he already possesses the answer. The moral code of his tradition goes a long way in establishing the balance he seeks. “Honor relationships. Don’t kill. Don’t lie. Don’t steal.” The inquirer informs Jesus, “That’s exactly what I’ve been doing all my life, but it’s not working. Staying balanced is not doing it for me!” Jesus is quick to offer an invitation, “Sell all you have and give the money to the poor, then you’ll get what you’re seeking” The man — the rich man — walks away with a shrug of his shoulders. Not willing to tamper with his own sense of balance, he ignores Jesus’ advice.
Maybe Jesus is more interested in disturbing our balance than maintaining it. “Those who lose their lives will find them . . . Deny yourself, take up the cross and follow me . . . If you love family more than me you can’t be my disciple . . . No one can serve two masters . . . I came not to bring peace but a sword.” Jesus reinforces the truth that imbalanced people change the world.
I came across a quote of Winston Churchill which seems to parallel what Jesus is saying. In eulogizing Sir Lawrence of Arabia, Churchill said: “He was not in complete harmony with the normal . . . The multitudes were swept forward till their pace was the same as his.”
We could do worse than creating places in our lives where we refuse to allow the world’s sense of normalcy and balance to become ours.
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