Over the next few weeks, I want to spend some time talking about how our faith is about balance. In several different areas, a healthy faith views extremes with suspicion, and with fear and trembling, it holds a balance between two extremes.
As an example, this week I want to talk about the balance between the “head” part of our faith, and the “heart” part of our faith. The head part of our faith is the knowledge we gain of the Bible and its stories. It is the time spent learning and memorizing Bible verses, the interpretations of Bible passages, and the theology (our way of talking about God and God’s ways) that our understanding of the Bible creates. Now certainly, the head part is good and important to develop. I cannot tell you how many times I have been in difficult situations, and a Bible verse will pop into my mind that speaks to that situation. That is “head” faith. But if that is all there is, the Bible becomes nothing more than a history book, and our theology is limited to systems of thinking that we memorize and analyze.
The heart part of our faith is the spontaneous experience of the Holy Spirit in our lives that moves us. It happens when we feel the joy of a good moment of worship together, or when we feel the connection to another that comes through fellowship. It is the power that comes from hearing a powerful story in the sermon, and when we feel that we are making a difference in someone else’s life. The heart part is the compassion for others that gives us a sense of the shared journey of our faith. And this “heart” part of our faith is important and good as well. Those moving experiences of closeness to God become markers that help us through difficult times in our life. But like “head” faith, heart faith by itself is incomplete. Living solely by heart faith puts us on a roller coaster faith, always looking for next spiritual high, when maintaining the mountaintop is impossible. And beyond that, when we can’t maintain it, we begin to feel about ourselves and our journey, and the valleys of feeling separated from God grow deeper.
So, neither a “head” faith nor a “heart” faith, when existing alone, are good for us. We have to keep a balance between the two, so that each helps the other. So today as you worship, may your head and your heart be full of faith and the experience of God’s love.