There was a sermon lesson I learned once about living in 'the tension' of life. This very thought has been brought back to the surface of my mind with a recent interview I listen to with David Fitch on Homebrewed Christianity regarding his new book ‘The End of Evangelicalism?’. I feel the tension in this question, I feel it in all sorts of areas where a clear cut answer can’t be found for me. Because I feel that stating there is an answer for everything, and that it is us that have that answer is really nothing more than the need to control? And so what would Jesus tells us about that if he could?
I mean, Jesus states all too clearly that it is he that is the truth, the life, and the way. So if Jesus is the truth, then it would be him you would need to define, or pin down with a clear cut set of answers. But how can we do this? The first shall be last, and the last first. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood shall have eternal life. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, then for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. If your right eye causes you to sin pluck it out, for it is better to lose a limb then to be thrown into hell. If you don’t feel tension, questions, confusion in those words we are not reading the same Bible. He is the truth, and yet, for Him as I see that did not equal coming up with a clear concise answer to every question he was asked.
There was a moment with Evelyn this week that brought on this very tension within our little family, and for me was a realization that God wanted me to share my thoughts on tension. I read her a book called, “Clean Water for Elirose”. You can learn about the book, it’s mission, and hope here, but it is a teaching tool for children so they can learn about the social injustice involved with the lack of clean water for all. I want Evelyn to know about social injustices. I want her to feel compelled to help. I want her to grow knowing that Christ’s vision for a new Heaven and a new Earth do not involve these types of things. That we can fight now to help squelch the ugliness of it all. But you try sitting down with a four year old angel staring up at you asking why a girl who looks just like her is drinking water dirty from, among other things, human waste. Begging you for comfort from the question of why we don’t all have clean water. Tell me the teaching of social injustices aren’t hard. Tell me there isn't tension in that. I wanted so badly to tell her I was lying. To tell her that those kids would be okay. That God would heal, and take care, and ease their pain. And although, Christ is in those moments of pain with those children just as he is with Evie in hers, likely their suffering will not pass without pain and death.
Let’s face it, when someone asks us a question about Christianity having an answer to cover the doubt is the easiest. When someone feels moved by the Spirit, giving them a prayer that will somehow cover their future longings and forgive all previous sins is the simplest plan. But that isn't what Christ did. He told us it would be hard to live for Him. We are guaranteed suffering. He tells us this suffering brings refinement as only an Abba Father can give. He reminds us to teach and lead those in our own church (I praise God for my own elders who love and teach and lead me with great care), but we are not to judge those outside.
What you believe is not what everyone else in the Christian community believes, and yet, we somehow believe we are all the ones with the 'right' answers. My conclusion is not that we are all right, and the doors will be open to everyone. No, my conclusion is that we are all wrong, in one form or another. That His ways are not are ways, that His thoughts are not our thoughts. I have learned far more about God, and my relationship with Jesus, when I have allowed the Spirit to work beyond what I gave him growing up to work with. It's listening, learning, and discerning. Anyone can listen to someone teach them what they already know, in order to reaffirm how right they are. To me it's about growth, and there is no where I'd rather be then growing in God.
And so you will find there is a tension between whether you are leading someone astray or resisting the need to judge. That tension . . . it is okay. There is a tension in just how much is enough when giving to the church or to social injustice needs. That tension. . .it is okay. There is tension in wanting to provide things for our families and not being greedy or materialistic. That tension . . . it is okay. There is tension in doubting what we have been taught as infallible truth. That tension . . . it too, is okay.
The key is living in this tension doesn't change your views. It doesn't change your values. It doesn't change your beliefs. What it does is opens the door of your heart, mind, and soul to a world of other broken fallen humans out there. Humans that the Spirit longs for us to connect with, because like it or not they may hold some wisdom the Spirit desires for you to hold.