Thursday, October 07, 2004


R. Paul Stevens of Regent College in summing up a Spirituality in the Marketplace Seminar once said, "There is no tension in a corpse." Indeed. While he is referring to what takes place in the marketplace, that little truism about tension applies just as well to the rest of life. And since we inhabit a world of the living, would someone care to do a little calculation and say how such tension might multiply exponentially in our daily interactions with the rest of the human race?

St Paul who was himself no stranger to inner tension (and external pressure) talks about finding relief through Jesus in Romans 7. There is debate if Paul was describing pre- or post-conversion, but I take comfort in Romans 8 where he affirmed that there is now no condemnation for a believer who is set free from the law of sin and death. Meaning, in spite of prevailing ‘tension’ (can I use that word?) my security is certain. It’s the testimony of the Spirit in the word of God that brings me this assurance - not my emotion or intelligence (although I’m sure they too have their part to play): "The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children." Rom 8:16

The process of sanctification sometimes takes us through terrain where light and shadows dance. Once I mentioned to a friend who asked about my new year’s resolution to work hard at disciplining my time. She laughed as she replied, "You say the same thing every year." Okay, okay, so I do. As someone wrote, “A lifetime of habits takes a lifetime to change,” which is so good to hear.

Putting away the stuff that eats into my soul and thus stands in the way of my relationship with Jesus, is intrinsic to the journey. As long as it’s in the same direction towards spiritual formation and maturity (Eugene Peterson’s “long obedience in the same direction”), I'll be looking out for the occasional dip in the road; maybe I'll miss a turn here and there, now and then.

At some point I’ll have to shut my ears to the voices of condemnation that would rob me of my confidence that God is doing something in my life, that He isn’t quite finished with me yet. That’s what trust is all about. That’s why the Bible talks about endurance and perseverance, overcoming and finishing the race, etc. Just as faith is not necessarily the absence of doubt (Os Guinness), tension is not the absence of trust. I am not yet a corpse; I shall not be robbed of my a child of God, an heir, and co-heir with Christ. There’s glory at the end of the journey. There is no quick-fix. For now there’ll be tension, even suffering.

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