Becky, our daughter Emily, and I recently saw "Man on Wire,” a film about "the artistic crime of the century." It was committed in 1974, when Philippe Petit and his friends strung a wire between the tops of the twin World Trade Towers and walked/waltzed/danced and crawled across that wire, high above the streets of Manhattan, 8 times. Seeing Petit 110 stories up, holding his balance between the risks of falling off to his left or his right, I thought to myself, if I haven't started doing that by now, its probably too late. Not something you'd plan on taking up in retirement. I also thought there should be some words of warning printed on the screen, like: "Don't try this at home." Then it occurred to me, you know, my life is often like that. And so is yours, I imagine. As parents or spouses in families, many of us know what it is trying to balance working hard to support our families with being there for our families. Or enjoying the moment along with preparing for the future. Both are necessary. Or, how would one describe combining the calling to care for others and the need to take care of ourselves so that we even have some energy and emotion left over to care for others, except as a balancing act?
Those are just a few of the balancing acts we all have to pull off in life. And they're not easy. Human nature is not always geared toward balance. Martin Luther said that in so many areas of life we are like a drunken sailor who gets on a horse, only to fall off on the left. To keep that from happening, he gets back on and leans so far over to the right that he falls off again.
For Christians that balancing act is about loving people in the world without needing to be loved by the world, between being a friend in the world without needing the friendship of the world. This balancing act is laid out by Jesus in John 15: 9-21, the last passage in our focus on "The Things That Make For Peace." The love part we can easily understand being part of "the things that make for peace." But what about the hate and persecution part that Jesus talks about in nearly the same breath? For an attempt at explaining this balancing act as it "makes for peace," check out the sermon from Sunday, August 21, 2008, at Download John15balancingact.doc.