Thursday, February 19, 2009
Living in Tension
My church and I are going through Acts for a Wednesday night Bible study. The first four chapters of Acts give this incredible retelling of the earliest life of the church. God is at work, and he is healing people in the temple, tongues of fire are coming down, and the church is completely unified and are taking care of each others needs. God's mission is evident to everybody who comes into contact with it, and it is having a powerful effect on all those who it comes into contact with. I love those four chapters. God is at work. His church is being the church and are participating in what God is up to. But then comes chapter five. I could live in chapters 1-4. Tell me to be a witness. Tell me to heal the lame. Tell me to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Tell me to be as one mind with those in my church. Don't tell me about Ananias and Sapphira. Don't tell me about the human struggles and the consequences that come with them. Don't tell me that there were those in the early church were selfish. Keep me in chapters 1-4. Don't tell me about God judging quickly these two just like Achan. There is this tension in this new community, a tension that exists today. A tension between holiness and grace. The tension is there when I read Jesus. Richard Buridge writes about the tension in his book Imitating Jesus. He writes that the ethics that Jesus taught were incredibly conservative and radical for that day. Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us. He teaches us that divorce is unacceptable (except for marital infedelity). Yet at the same time, Jesus is the friend of sinners. When everyone else was going to condemn a woman caught in adultry, Jesus doesn't. When no one else would talk to the Samaritan Woman with five husbands at the well, Jesus does. He heals the blind, the lame, and sets the prisoner free. Jesus not only lived the tension, he is the tension. The question I asked my church last night, and the question that I am still wrestling is how do we live the tension?