It seems that Christians are constantly trying to make their lives easier. To remove the points of conflict and tension that exist naturally in walking with Christ. As Francois Fenelon has so aptly described in his little collection of letters to the employees of King Louis the XIV, the path of Christ is not one of control and ease, but of release and tension.
In committing to becoming like Jesus, we place ourselves squarely in the middle of a tension that will exist for as long as we live. On the one hand we strive to be “set apart” – to be different, transformed, not of this world (NOTW). This is because we are naturally taking on the nature and characteristics of the one we serve. God is other, so we become other. You’ve probably noticed how when people become Christ-followers, they begin to drift away from the habits, patterns, and people they once associated most closely with. This is the natural tendency to become like God in God’s holy otherness.
At the same time, we feel compelled to engage the world around us in ways that transform. We see an injustice and we move to address that – be it local, individual, or global. We are driven by an inner fire to get involved, make a difference – to bring the Kingdom of God to those places of darkness and pain. That inner compulsion is equally a reflection of God’s nature. You see it was God’s love that motivated engagement through the incarnation of Jesus. God’s otherness makes Him set apart; God’s love compels involvement.
So we who seek to be reflectors of God’s holy nature will always live in that tension of being set apart as we are influenced by God’s otherness, and at the same time being compelled to get involved as we are influenced by God’s incarnational love. So if you feel the constant tension in you and wonder how to get rid of it, don’t. It is a natural and healthy tension that is the consequence of becoming holy as God is holy.
Lean into the tension!