Desiring Stress

The About page speaks of a tension in which we must live as Christians. Tension is inevitable, as inevitable as our desire to avoid it. We prefer resolving tension. Tension reducing exercises, a glass of wine to take the edge off, prescription meds, many use some or all of these to avoid tension.

The Truth be told we are invited into tension. Joost de Blank in his work “UN – Comfortable Words” reminds us of the nature of the call. “God so loved” is followed by “’he that believeth on him is not condemned but he that believeth not is condemned already.’ Spiritual choice and moral decision are always required.” Sobering isn’t it? Wasn’t it T.S. Elliott that said we can only handle so much of the truth?

A friend recently sent me a consoling note wondering if I am at odds with a people who want their ears tickled as described in 2 Timothy. Short answer is “of course I am.” Indeed the struggle is external. But it is internal too. I cannot avoid it any more than anyone else. Want my cake. Want to eat it too. Can have anything I want. Can’t have everything I want. Frankly, I’d rather you tell me otherwise.

Ancient Future Church is filled with a people who want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. No ear tickling allowed. Not a fire and brimstone preaching that uses law to produce guilt without ever extending grace. Or feckless mainline preaching that promises grace without law leading to guilt.  By the way, the community church version of the same feckless preaching is law lite commonly known as health and wealth. No, none of these. Instead truth! Truth that creates tension! You mean I am guilty and I am loved?! Now that’s sensational! It is transforming!

Cheap grace does not transform. Cheap grace, the content of feckless preaching when there happens to be any content, tickles the ear. Bonhoeffer famously captured our desire to eliminate tension this way:

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”

 You can draw a crowd with cheap grace. But you can’t make disciples with it. Because grace isn’t cheap.

Stress desirable. Not doom and gloom but joy and godly sorrow (the hardest to reach are those who acknowledge no pain). Tension required. Cast suspicious eyes on all efforts to remove the tension. On your efforts. Mine. Other’s. Especially other’s!

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