My campus pastor used to preach about this idea in Christianity he refers to as the radical middle. As if scaling along a thin mountain ridge, one step toward either side could lead us to fall. Likewise, in our spiritual walk, we tend to fall into extremes that bring us to temptation or sin, falling away from this radical middle and His perfect design. We see this idea play out in the character of God Himself. He is mysteriously, perfectly just, yet perfectly merciful. He is gentle, yet assertive and bold.
We must imitate Jesus as He walks in this perfect balance. We are not to get caught up in legalism, yet we are not to be lawless. We must have an urgency for salvation and sanctification with those we are discipling, yet we are called to have compassion and patience with them in their spiritual journey. I don’t know about you, but my nature tends to put me in the category of being a woman of extremes. When I am unable to climb those thin mountain ridges, Jesus ever so gently guides me back to His perfect radical middle through prayer.
One way I have seen this radical middle play out in my life lately is in the workplace. Work life is tricky for me. You see, we are asked to pursue excellence in our work, yet not make it ingrained in our identity. As my church likes to ask, are you idle in your work or has your work become an idol? When we idolize our work, we use it as a source of identity. Our work consumes our thought life, self-worth, and free time. We put our true God on the back burner and replace Him with accomplishments, productivity, and a never-ending to do list. True rest becomes difficult, prayer is unfocused, and we forget why we are working to begin with.
On the other hand, when we are idle in our work, we do just enough to get by–the bare minimum. Our quality diminishes, we become lazy, and we lose purpose in our work. We forget to pursue excellence and remember that even through our work, we are Christ’s ambassadors.
Are you straying from His radical middle? Are you so caught up in productivity and busyness that you are neglecting the true ruler of your time? Or, are you forgetting that you must reflect His Kingdom in your work? I must bring this question to The One who has always been the perfect example of the steady, radical middle. Jesus had purpose in His work and ministry. He had a destination, yet was happy to stop on His way. He had a timeline and an urgency to spread His message, yet spent time alone with the Father. He was even stopped in His tracks of healing a dying young girl by the touch of a bleeding woman. Jesus was willing to be interrupted by God-given opportunities.
When we can allow ourselves to focus on His walk on the ridge, rather than ours, we can work towards aligning our desires to be perfectly urgent, yet perfectly compassionate, gentle yet assertive, just yet merciful. We must pursue excellence for the sake of His glory, not ours. What a beautiful God we serve, that He can be two seemingly conflicting qualities at once. Praise His perfect balance and His beautiful, radical middle.