A few weeks ago we had pastor from a local church visit and preach in our chapel service here on campus. He preached on balance in the Christian life, and it's something that I think really needs to be heard.
He told us to envision the Christian life as a wheel with three spokes. One spoke is labeled "Holiness", another "Service for Christ", and the last was labeled "Position in Christ". I'm going to break each one down in the way that he did.
…but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."
I Peter 1:15-16
Striving to live a holy life is very important in our Christian life. We should always be aiming for removing those things that are displeasing to the Lord from our life, but talking an emphasis on Holiness can lead to legalism, and a lack of grace.
Service for Christ:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Romans 12:1
We should always be striving to serve the Lord in our church, and in whatever way we can. However when we take this one too far it can lead to a strict regimented "duty" oriented Christianity that lacks love and can even lack Holiness.
Position in Christ:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
It is very important that we as Christians remember God's grace in our lives. He gave us unmerited favor that we didn't deserve, and we should always be rejoicing in that! However, an over emphasis of this can lead to a lack of Holiness.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
I really like the analogy of a wheel when it comes to the Christian life. Because when we overemphasize any one of these we can think of it like an unbalanced wheel. If you tried to ride a bike where one side of the spokes on your wheels were shorter than the other ones, it would be really uncomfortable to ride. You would be bouncing up and down and struggling to get from one place to the next. Much like that, when we overemphasize one of these it will really make our Christian life difficult.
I know for me as a Conservative Christian, and as a Baptist in particular, I at times grew up with an overemphasis on the Holiness part. It honestly wasn't really till I got to college that I really started thinking deeply about my position in Christ. It's so awesome to think about God's love to us, and His grace. I'm overwhelmed by it, and so thankful! But I've even noticed how it can be overemphasized to the point where I forget that I'm supposed to strive to live a Holy life as well!
It can be very hard to find a good balance between these three! We as imperfect humans have a tendency to try to do things on our own, and we seem to be able to focus on only one of these at a time. But with God's help He can enable us to find a good balance between these three.