Living in the Tension
Reading through the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes this summer has led me into some unexpected intellectual arenas. Throughout this interesting little book, Solomon explores the tension, the anxiety, the vexation of our inner being we all experience as we do life in the shadow of impending death. While I certainly think we have every right to reject Solomon’s conclusion that all of life is vanity and meaningless, it seems Solomon is absolutely right on concerning the deeply rooted anxiety we deal with as mortal beings inevitably approaching death.
You know this anxiety, this tension - I’m sure it’s probably all too familiar.
And I don’t know about you, but for me this tension has not been alleviated as I have continued to attempt to follow Jesus. If anything, the tension has become more pronounced. Anyone who says that following Jesus leads one away from tension is selling you a bill of goods.
For example, Jesus urges us to come to Him if we are weary and burdened and we will find rest in our souls because His way of doing life, His yoke, if you will, is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 28-30). And this is fantastic, I cling to these words, but Jesus also calls us to give ourselves away and be willing to die if we want to follow Him (Matthew 16:24-25).
While I understand that Jesus is a master of hyperbole (and probably employing it here) these ideas still stand in tension with one another. I am willing to bet that an honest attempt to submit one’s life to Jesus will not eradicate the tension of life but actually cause us to experience it more deeply. Any way of following Jesus that doesn’t lead us more deeply into the tension, anxiety, and suffering of life is probably not the real deal. Solomon encouraged us to banish anxiety from our beings so that we can more fully enjoy life while Jesus encourages us to become people transformed by the power of His Spirit who are able to not only live in the tension, but to bring hope, peace, and rest in the midst of it.
David Stewart serves as Associate Director of High School Ministries at CPC