TC's Guidelines and Principles for Life #17: "God doesn’t call us to a life of balanced devotion. He calls us to radical devotion." Aristotle tells us that in seeking virtue, we should avoid both excess and deficiency. For example: courage is good, but foolhardiness (excess) and cowardice (deficiency) are not.
I think, in general, there is value in heeding Aristotle's call. However, when it comes to our relationship with God, the thrust I see across the narratives of the books included in the Bible do not paint, to me, a picture of God wanting a balanced relationship with us.
Rather, I see a God who passionately and relentlessly pursues the people whom he loves.
In the Gospels, in the letters written by Paul, and in the book of Revelation, the imagery of a Bride and Groom are used to provide a picture of the church and Christ himself.
This is not some casual relationship that God calls us into. It is one that calls for utter abandon of our former way of life for one that is focused primary on him.
If you get married and try to work your spouse into the areas of your life where you happen to have room for him or her, your marriage is not going to go well.
You have to be willing to bulldoze large sections of your schedule, your living spaces, your habits, your desires and preferences, etc.
How much more for a relationship with God himself, who connects with us on a level far deeper than what is possible between those of us who are living in this world?
Jesus hints at this concept when he shocks us in Luke 14:26 with these words:
"If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison--your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple."
Wow. Hating my father and mother, wife and children, even life itself in comparison to how I love God?
That's not balanced. That's pretty excessive. To the point of being possible crazy.
Here's why I submit that violating the Golden Mean in this case makes perfect sense: because this isn't one sided on our part. We're not giving utter and complete devotion and then being let down.
Rather, we're responding to the unbalanced devotion that God has already shown us. He sent his son to die for us before we deserved it. Heck, we never would have deserved it.
God showed 'unbalanced' compassion and love and mercy and forgiveness long before we did. It is in responding to this with 'excessive' devotion that we can actually start to grasp, and receive and appreciate the relationship God has extended to us.
Our relationship with God has no Golden Mean. We can never match what he has done. We can only respond. As he has given his best, the only response that makes sense if for us to do the same.
35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.