Wednesday, April 10, 2013

On Balance--by Linden Malki

"I just need to know what comes in and what goes out, and we can make sense of it from there."  This is what John's tax guy told me when I first started doing the bookwork for our auto repair business. This made sense, because I had had enough math to know that everything has to balance. Whether it's a checkbook, or a ledger, and now a spreadsheet, there is a point where you push the magic button and the number that appears has to match another one. This is also the way the physical universe runs: physical and chemical processes can only produce the equivalent to what is put in. 

Sir Isaac Newton, one of the giant figures in the development of our understanding of the physical universe, distilled his observations and calculations into a short list of "laws", one of which is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."  It seems to apply to our own lives as well. Even small children seem to want fairness--how often to we hear a kid scream "That's not fair!" In our desire to be "fair", it's easy to think that all questions and disputes have two sides, equal and opposite. Even our classic personification of Justice is a goddess holding a balance scale; the evidences are put on their appropriate side of the scale, and one will overbalance the other. Some traditions even see God's judgment as a similar scale: our good behaviors go on one side, bad stuff on the other, and our eternal fate depends on which is greater. 

This is not how the God we see in Scripture works. In His eyes, there is no equivalence between Good and Evil. God's first relationship with His creatures was based on His scale: This you must do, and this you must NOT do. On this scale, anything in the "NOT" side tips the scale against us. Whatever is not compatible with God's presence cannot be in God's presence. If this were all there was to it, we are all doomed to be banished from His presence. 

However, this is not what God wants. He made us so that we could be in a loving relationship with Him. He makes us an offer: If we are willing to give up everything on the negative side of the scale, He will  take it all and give us Himself on the positive. 

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