Holy Tension

The difficulty of holding the tension of seemingly opposed truths create many of the dividing forces between different sects of Christianity. Danger arises when you cling too tightly to one facet of truth, and completely lose hold of its complement. Extremes move away from the truth and love found at the cross.

I wish I could more easily convey a 3D image, because belief systems are complex and a linear spectrum oversimplifies.

I left white conservative evangelism over two years ago to take a longer-than-anticipated journey in the wilderness. One of the things I’ve learned in the wilderness as I’ve begun to visit many different churches, interact on social media, and read books outside my white evangelical upbringing, is that God owns a BIG umbrella. The diversity is beautiful. If God were a diamond, the innumerable different expressions of the Christian faith in the world are each a facet that only when viewed in totality begin to give you a glimpse of God’s brilliance.

Despite all the church hurt I’ve experienced, the absurd claim of a Three in One God, both fully human and fully divine makes sense to me in a world full of paradoxes. Justice and Mercy, Individual and Communal, Fate and Choice, Unity and Diversity, Different and Equal, License and Law are just a few of the tensions that come to mind. Humans recognize the truths of both sides of these tensions, yet struggle to reconcile them. I find answers at the foot of the cross. Truths difficult to reconcile on earth, when held in tension, leads me to the cross where I discover a trinitarian God, diverse yet unified, fully human yet fully divine, extending mercy while pursuing justice, teaching that in order to gain life one must lay down one’s life for neighbor, and offering grace to all destined to choose.

The grace found at the cross bridges the divides, but living in the tension this side of heaven is difficult. I believe the difficulty of holding the tension of seemingly opposed truths create many of the dividing forces between different sects of Christianity. Humans struggle to practice truths seemingly incompatible with one another well. Most churches claim to believe in unity in diversity, but if you’ve ever been part of a true multi-cultural community, you know how practically difficult it can be. Which language do you speak? What songs do you sing? Which interpretation of Scripture do you practice? When should you show mercy? Justice? When should the communal good trump the individual good? And vice versa? This side of heaven, I’m not sure we can ever get it truly right. We live in a broken world. I hold on to hope:

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:56

I believed many harmful doctrines as a Christian immersed in white evangelical culture, but I’m confident that I was still under God’s grace. Therefore, I’m no longer worried if I swing too far “left” because I expect God’s grace to be there for me just as it was when I was too far “right.” I humbly accept this side of heaven that I see in a mirror dimly (1 Cor 13:12). I’m thankful for the grace found at the cross. I hold on to the truth of God’s love for the world manifested in Jesus Christ and him crucified. I am on a journey towards Love and Truth, on a journey of learning to love God and love my neighbor as God loves me. Learning to pursue justice and show mercy, to strive for unity and celebrate diversity. Following Jesus to the cross and the resurrected life.

As I follow Jesus, I hope to evidence more Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control in my life. I no longer recognize fellow sojourners by the words that they say; instead, I recognize them by the fruit that they bear.

I am on a journey! Your thoughts are welcome here. As long as the tone stays respectful, feel free to leave your comments.

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