Why Faith Needs Balance

On my refrigerator, I’ve posted three important reminders to myself (besides my grocery list):

• a bumper sticker that says, “No Sniveling”

• a slip of paper from a fortune cookie that says, “It is much easier to be critical than to be correct.”

• a Peanuts cartoon that shows Snoopy at his typewriter on top of his doghouse, writing a book on theology. Charlie Brown walks up and says, “I hope you have a good title.” Snoopy smiles as his thought bubble claims he has the perfect title: “Has It Ever Occurred to You That You Might Be Wrong?”

Snoopy’s simple question hits the bull’s eye. When I first read it, I realized that it had never occurred to me that I might be wrong. I had been blindly arrogant, believing that I had life and God all figured out. I even thought I knew enough to tell others what to believe. Until I asked myself if I could be wrong. And I realized that, yes, I could. I might really be wrong.

That’s why it’s so important to me to have a faith that is a balance of integrity and grace. A faith of integrity requires me to admit that I’m willing to hold a belief (or tenet or doctrine or creed) with a certain amount of blindness. Because God is a mystery. There’s so much that cannot be proved. So I want my chosen beliefs to be steeped in grace. Otherwise, my beliefs can easily become prideful, arrogant, and unloving. So if holding a belief does not result in grace, then I can’t hold that belief with integrity. I want a faith of integrity balanced with grace.

In last week’s post, we looked at how the Greek word prautes, which is often translated meek or gentle in the Bible, often implied a balance in ancient times. It’s interesting that some Bibles translate prautes as humble. Humility is the result of having both integrity (honesty with self) and grace (a generous spirit toward others). The search for integrity and grace, then, is a search for humility, a balance of honesty and generosity, of self and others.

Life seems to be a long process of finding our balance. We never know which way our world will tilt. If we dig in our heels, refusing to pay attention or to question and examine our beliefs in light of our experiences, then we’re refusing to open our spirits and grow. We’re in danger of getting stuck off-balance. According to the faith research of James Fowler, this “assures that one will settle for a narrower and shallower faith than one needs.”

But when we pay attention, when we allow ourselves to question and examine our beliefs, we have an amazing opportunity to discover what we truly believe and why. We have a chance to grow toward maturity, toward a balance of integrity and grace, toward a living and open-hearted faith in a loving and open-hearted God. We have the opportunity, as Fowler says, to be “grasped by the vision of a center of value and power more luminous, more inclusive and more true than that to which we are devoted.”

Here’s wishing you a luminous, inclusive faith of integrity and grace!

Next week: The Horse and I.


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Text and No Sniveling photo © 2017 Karyn Henley. All rights reserved.

Other photos courtesy pexels.com and morguefile.com.