You must find your own balance point, and it will always be contextual. It’s a dynamic thing that requires constant attention and prayer, seeking the sweet spot where God’s glory in your life shines brightest, and where moral peace is strongest. If you don’t seek peace with God and His Creation first and foremost, you’ll always fail at seeking peace with anyone else.
You can never start from scratch; there’s always the reside of what came before. What you can do is start moving closer to what your conscience demands. Then, as you discover how misinformed your conscience can be, you correct your course. But it’s not possible to gauge any corrections until you first obey what’s already there in your conscience. You’ll discern how conscience is just an interface, a cerebral link to your convictions. Conviction is the sense of what you must and must not do to remain sane. You’ll have to cling to that conviction regardless of how others react.
And you will always remain aware of likely consequences, even if there’s nothing you can do to change them. But the calculus of consequences is not central to the decision; you aren’t responsible for the choices of others, even when you are obliged to inflict consequences yourself. You must consider from your own experience what response is likely no matter who is inflicting consequences on others so that you can prepare a morally proper response or non-response. Whatever we mean by “human free will” can’t ignore consequences, but the issue is that you first begin with your sense of conviction and build your choices on that. Conviction is the foundation; building plans will incorporate consequences afterward.
The core of biblical feudalism is people as treasure. What may be less obvious to those of us coming from a Western viewpoint is that “people” includes all of Creation. It’s a peculiar and complex image. We know from Scripture that God created humans as stewards of Creation. That establishes a principle of privilege for humans within Creation. But by no means does it signal a separation from Creation; we were always a part of nature, and it’s a part of us. Creation consists of all the persons over whom we exercise a shepherd’s dominion. That dominion is limited by our divine calling. As with people, so with the rest of Creation: It’s family. It’s your feudal household.
As shepherds over our own little realm within Creation, we bear within us the obligation to consider the balance point that best meets our convictions. A critical element in the shepherd’s heart is a reluctance to assert control, matched by a compassion to reduce suffering and sorrow. It’s all one thing and no two of us will do this quite the same way. But as with the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27), the better your stewardship, the more authority God grants. That’s a core element in biblical feudalism.
Biblical Law is not legislation; it is God’s divine moral character. Biblical Law is His heart. That’s why we say that the Son of God is also the Law of God personified. God never tossed out demands; He poured out His heart as the ultimate Good Shepherd. It’s in our best interest to conform ourselves to His moral character because that’s how all of Creation acts. We are both the privileged stewards and the fallen sinners who instinctively reject His Law. The rest of Creation is unfallen, but it will most certainly resist anyone who ignores Biblical Law. God warns us, “thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you” (Genesis 3:18). The curse means that you will have to pass through that Flaming Sword of His revealed will to return to Eden where Creation will obey your godly wishes.
Meanwhile, thorns and thistles grew in Eden, too, and you’ll have to understand their purpose and how they can bless you. The point was that if you want the better things in life, you’ll have to conquer your own nature first before you can begin asserting authority over nature. And that authority will begin with your own mind and body, radiating outward in the shining glory of God’s promised blessings. Your authority is the reach of your dominion granted from God; your authority rests on conforming to His moral nature.
You’ll find that this image applies in ways you might never have imagined. It’s the authority to stand before God and request things in prayer that you need for serving Him. Not just the mere mechanics of service, but the whole range of accouterments for office — all those blessings of the Covenant. He arrays His servants in glorious robes of light; not just all the material goods you desire, but the things you need to transmit His message, His image of the Son. Your permit with miracles will match the calling and mission on your life. It’s incumbent on you to discern from your heart what that calling and mission is.
This is the image of power in our fallen world.