Sometimes we experience two or more opposing realities that we can’t resolve, and as a result, we need to hold the tension in-between those realities.
I think most of us know this intuitively, and as Christians, it’s very much a part of our faith – Jesus’ divinity and humanity; God’s oneness and three-ness; Human choice and God’s sovereignty; Faith and works. Any Christian teaching you can name, has this kind of tension built into it.
And it’s not just Christianity, it’s all of life. No matter what area of life we look at, it seems that there’s a need to hold the tension. Take an example from nature: is light a wave or a particle? Scientific research says (I think): “It’s both.” And scientists need to hold the tension of not being able to resolve that.
Now, even though having to hold the tension in life is necessary, it’s not comfortable. It’s much easier to let go of the tension and choose a side, as it were. It’s not easy to live in the mystery in-between things. Even writing things like this can make some people feel uncomfortable (I’m sorry if that’s you!)
Now, I don’t know about you, but it’s not my natural tendency to hold the tension. Like most people, I want to pick a side and denounce all other sides. But as I go on in my journey, I’m beginning to see and experience the need to hold the tension.
I just want to share a very biblical example of this to show that it’s even in our sacred text – Proverbs 26:4-5: “Don’t answer fools according to their folly, or you will become like them yourself. Answer fools according to their folly, or they will deem themselves wise.” So, which is it? What must we do? Should we answer fools according to their folly or not? Well, I think what this Proverb teaches u is this – it depends. I don’t think that wisdom says, “Do this or do that” but rather, it says, “You will need to hold the tension in each individual situation and discern the best approach.”
So, how do we hold the tension? Well, in a book I’m currently reading, the author states this, “Without a contemplative mind, we do not know how to hold creative tensions.”
That’s all well and good but it begs the question – how do we gain a contemplative mind? Well, one definition of contemplation that I’ve read, is this – “the ability to see things as they really are.” And as I thought about that definition my mind immediately went to James 1:19which says, “Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry.” I think that’s definitely one biblical pathway to growing a contemplative mind.
And yet, as I’m sure you’ll agree, eventhough it’s so simple, it’s so hard, isn’t it? We are so prone to be quick to speak, quick to get angry, and slow to listen. So, silence, it seems, to me, is a key to being able to see things as they really are and therefore is the key to holding the tension.
I hope that’s a helpful thought for your day. No doubt, you will face many tensions today, and you’ll likely not be able to resolve them (or even need to) – you may just have to hold the tension. And perhaps, after holding the tension for sometime, a creative way through, that never occured to you before, will present itself. Think of how Jesus resolved the tension when the Pharisees presented him with ‘the woman caught in an act of adultery‘!
Let’s pray: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.“
Every blessing, Craig.