Let me quickly clarify something before I begin. I am not one for major qualifiers nor will I apologize for what I think, but as you read this post you might find yourself disagreeing. I am great with that as this is merely a platform for free flowing thoughts and you can feel free to share your own opinions and questions. My hope is that we never settle and we never stop asking questions of faith and God. There are two sides to every coin, it would be foolish to think my side of the coin is the only right way to view reality. So here it goes.
When we hear the word tension we often think of personal tension, meaning, being in a constant state of stress or an excruciatingly uptight person. This is not the same type of tension that I am thinking of. When I think of tension I am more referring to a state of disequilibrium or the relationship between two seemingly contrasting realities.
The funny thing about tension is that we hate it. Just the other day I went for a bike ride and when I got home my bike computer read 20.9 miles. Almost automatically, I found myself riding circles in the parkinglot until it said 21 miles even. At which point I was satisfied, the tension was gone, and I could proceed into my apartment before the neighbors wondered what I was doing. It is also funny how this plays out in relationships. There is nothing worse then relational tension, the proverbial elephant in the room. This is especially true with the people we love. Some of us have enough pride to fuel relational tension for some time, but after a while the tension will eat away at us and we will seek restoration for that relationship.
We don't like things that don't add up and we struggle to function without all the i's being dotted, the t's being crossed, the numbers being even, and our relationships being right. Our culture seems to be more like a liquid, seeking to find perfect equilibrium in life. While it is healthy and encouraged to not have relational tension and to ride your bike until it reads 21 miles even, this reality has a tendency to find its way into what we believe as well. We have to have an answer to every question and be able to explain everything perfectly. We have to have evidence to support our ideas and everything has to add up. So, when we are faced with tension in what we believe, we have a tendency to either run and hide or pull a Billy Graham and bust out an eloquent speech to convince ourselves and those around us that everything adds up perfectly.
The truth is that we start to really struggle when we come across realities in our faith that we can't explain. For example, we know that Jesus was 100% God and 100% man. Well, I am no math major, but last time I looked, that equals 200%. So, if you believe in the Deity and Humanity of Christ, which is foundational and essential to being a Christ follower and the one major thing that separates Christianity from all other systems of belief, you are going to have to be ok with a little tension.
While I was in bible college, the final class I took was an overview of all the different areas of theology. Try as we may to create statements that brought clarity to what we believed, we often sat in the tension of belief and explanation. We couldn't fully explain everything we believed and it was that professor who let us out of the prison of tension by giving us the three most freeing words of all time, "I don't know." After four years of pursuing all of the answers and finding that we had more questions then before, this was the first professor that gave us the freedom to say, I don't know. You see, if we could explain everything, what role would faith play in what we believe? The bible says "The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. (Hebrews 11:1 MSG) not only is faith a handle on what we can not see, it is also a handle on what we can not explain or understand.
On the other side, tension can not become and excuse to stop pursing God and truth, as it is easier to say I don't know, then it is to actually seek the truth. While tensions may be the thing that makes it hard to truly believe in God, for me it is the opposite. It's the tension that keeps me pursuing my relationship with God every day. For I know that the God I serve is both perplexing and unexplainable. I can seek God every minute of everyday and never fully know Him. I would want it no other way.