If you are reading this devotional through your email or on the Internet, the government knows about it. When you make a purchase with a credit card, or any purchase for that matter, details from the transaction are captured by the retailer’s computer system and stored in a database accessible by the government. Large Internet companies such as Google and Facebook, along with wireless providers such as Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint, have even shared their customers’ personal information with the government. That means every phone call you make and every text message you send is being recorded in a massive database by the government’s National Security Agency. Whether you like it or not, the government knows your business. The question is, should they? If so, how much should they know?

This is the nature of the debate concerning the ethics of government surveillance. Some see it as a necessary evil in the effort to combat terrorism, while others see it as an infringement upon our rights and freedoms as American citizens. Others are not opposed to government surveillance as a safeguard, but they believe the government has overstepped its bounds and gained access to too much information. Perhaps the biggest challenge facing lawmakers and citizens is determining an appropriate balance which will both protect our country and preserve the freedoms of our citizens.

Since I am not a lawmaker, I will leave this conundrum for our politicians to decide, but the idea of balance also plays a very significant role in the Christian life. It is easy for Christians to get caught up in extremes which polarize them from other believers and from the world they are trying to reach. This occurs when we concentrate on individual elements of Christianity without considering the entire picture, Jesus Christ. Truth should go hand-in-hand with love; liberty should be balanced with grace and sensitivity; faith should be balanced with works (not for salvation, of course, but in our testimony before others). When serving, loving, pleasing, and obeying the Lord is our main priority, then the other aspects of the spiritual life will fall into place.

So let’s concentrate on Christ. Let’s avoid spiritual extremes. Let’s keep our lives balanced today.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.