The Christian life frequently seems like a fragile balancing act between two extremes. On one side there are legalists who focus on the rules. For them, Christianity centers on a to-do list and maintaining the proper pious attitude toward God. They’re walk has little joy. It comes with a tremendous burden. They have a reverence for God. But they have an unhealthy understanding of what it really means to fear God.
Then there are those who relish in their “Christian liberty.” They always seem to be pushing the line and in some cases blowing right past it. They have a very casual attitude toward God. They will quickly point out that Jesus was a maverick, a rule breaker. To them, God seems more like a cosmic big buddy than The King.
Although they profess to love God, they do not have a firm understanding of God’s holiness and righteous standard. Their life looks too much like the world to provide contrast to the confused masses.
Christian liberty boosters think they are doing God a favor by making Christianity become relevant and attractive to the world. They generally like and enjoy spending time with God because they see Jesus as a liberator not a rule enforcer. They tend to be very happy and content.
Liberty-focused Christians frequently fall in the trap of become too familiar with God. They can profane the holy by making it common and undisciplined.
Either the legalist or the liberty mindset is a perversion of what God wants. Jesus pointed out that the correct path for a disciple is indeed narrow and few travel along it (Matthew 7:13&14). It can be real easy to live in a ditch and not the center of the road. Trials, temptations and human nature pull to one extreme or the other.
The two forces that keep your life in alignment are the fear of the Lord and heart-felt love for God. Sometimes love for God is not enough to keep us from sin. We need to recognize that God will not be mocked. Sin is serious business to God, and He will judge it. Hebrews declares, “It is a fearful thing to fall in to the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
And then no matter how much we strive to do the right thing and respect God, these things are only part of what God wants. He ultimately desires our love, a close relationship with men. Without love, all of our works amount to nothing.
Like most things in life what is the strength of something also can be its chief weakness. And it can be all too easy to end up in ditch. But if the forces of love and fearing God are active in our lives, we will walk the center line in harmony with God and His will.
At first, loving and fearing God may seem to conflict. But that is only for those who fail to understand the true meaning of the concepts. If you really love something, you will recognize what makes it special and will seek to honor it. If you really love somebody, your actions will show it. Jesus said that those who love Him will obey His commandments.
The fear of the Lord does not drive us from God. Instead, it drives us to God because we have no reason to hide. God’ perfect love drives out the fear associated with judgment and replaces it a holy fear based on reverence. If you find yourself frequently stuck in a spiritual ditch, let God pull you out and do what only He can do. Proper balance lies not in our actions, feelings or theology. It can only be found in the truth and the power contained in Jesus Christ.