I hate tension. It doesn't sit well with me. For tension in my head I take Panadol. For tension in a relationship I try and analyse my part in it and try and bring peace to the situation. For tension in my back there might be pain of getting a knot out, but there's at least a resolution.
The idea that I have to live in tension in my faith is difficult. I have recently been thinking about where I’m heading in life in terms of how I live out my Christian faith.
Thinking back 2years ago, I was running an annual conference and helping with other camps/conferences, working 2 days and some nights for church as well as part-time work, leading a cell group and mentoring other cell leaders and was fruitful in ministry. This didn't diminish my devotion to God and I felt close to Him (I think because I had to rely on Him so much). The busy ministry didn't lead my relationship with God, but they fed each other and although tiring, I was doing what I felt God wanted me to be doing at the time. Jump forward 2 years and I'm not doing much ministry wise (the church I'm in is about a fifth of the size so while there is still lots to do, it's a different scale and has a different call for events/programs and the like). I'm only out one night a week now (church) and have no idea how I fit in things like doing my washing etc. 2 years ago.
The tension in my ‘faith life’ now are things like – Is it enough that my friends of other religions/no particular faith know that I am a Christian and go to church or should I speak more of Jesus? - Should I be reading the bible differently than I am (e.g. studying it like in bible college)? – Will I ever be doing such full-on ministry activities again and therefore should be preparing somehow? – is this simply a season for family? Am I missing something that God would have me do, but I’m not listening to Him enough to know about? Will there be a time when I’ll be surrounded by older women as mentors like in my previous church or am I going it alone now? Do people who don’t have a ‘faith life’ (either at all, or as a Christ-follower) live with tensions like this?
I’m secure in my relationship with who God is and who I am in God, but it’s tricky figuring out how to best live as a Christ follower.
My pastor was talking about how we must learn to dwell in the places of tension in our faith e.g. between remaining in God or abounding in the work of God; faith or works; taking up our cross yet taking on Jesus' easy yoke... There’s not really an easy balance, or a ‘right’ one necessarily anyway.
So, rather than giving me answers about the tensions, my pastor has just confirmed that I have to live with it. There’s something kinda freeing in that because it means I’m never going to have the answers, but something frustrating in that also because I’d rather have a plan ;) In the words of Mutant Enemy “Grr, argh”.