Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Friday, May 11, 2007

Tension part 1?

Tension is the condition of being held in a state between two or more forces, which are acting in opposition to each other, it involves in the instance of the picture, a stretching or elasticity in order to adapt to the tension. There is in the spectrum of the Kingdom life, lived out in the people of God (I mean those who follow Jesus), an inherent tension between the world as it defines, molds and justifies itself, and the existence of Christians as a part of but not citizen of the same world. This tensile position is such that it allows and enables in circumstances and instances a departure from the true direction of what Kingdom living means. The picture is not the most appropriate for this discussion, but it does permit the example of what happens when the strands begin to unravel and the forces being held in check are unable to exercise their power over the opposing force. The Pharisees of the time of Jesus and many of the Jews besides, were awaiting the coming of a King, who in the absolute power of God would overthrow the oppressive powers of the day and restore and/or establish a kingdom of Israel on Earth. It was to be the reaping of vengeance and their salvation from the world and their vindication for the terrible misfortunes that they had endured at the hands of the powers of this world, and would place them as the nation of God, a redeemed people, justified. In this thought process there lies some misconceptions of the workings of God in and through the people of Israel as well as a prideful intent in their understanding of the purposes of their very existence in this world. We as Christians have attained to the same like-minded attitude towards our position and purpose in living out the Kingdom purpose exemplified and mandated by Jesus. Without doubt there is absolutely no way around the tension of our existence that is meant to exist in us, because positionally we are placed at odds with every aspect of the culture in which we live and move and have our being.
Tension is actually a position of resolution, it seeks to resolve the powers or forces at odds and maintain a state of equilibrium. In some essence of tension there is inherent the control of and possibly latent ability to constrain, to hold at bay the opposing force.
The initial tension of our position was developed as a result of the Fall. In the garden of Eden we see the life lived without the tension of sin, it was a life of peace, tranquility, substance, sustenance and the direct, condescending, amiable, fellowship of God. The Fall resulted in the curse of God. which meant, removing Himself from that direct relationship with man and with that, the opportunity for man to experience the walking and talking fellowship love of the Father. The passing of time and circumstance removed man even further from that fellowship and resulted in gnosticism (God known through knowledge & occult spiritual experience), agnosticism (God is unknowable), and deism (God ceasing to interact). The corollary result is tension, man, over the course of time seeking that relationship with God through other means, striving to fulfill the heart's inherent desire for that fellowship which is placed by God as a vacuum in the soul of man unattainable in truthful reality except by that which is found in the restoration of that fellowship revealed through Jesus Christ.
Man has sought to bring God to himself through many theisms and such perversities of religion or thought as appeared to him, and has as a by-product of such attempts, created gods in man's image to assuage those heart-felt desires. As I look at history and culture and reflect on the words that are written and spoken, I hear resonating throughout, the cry of the heart for God. It comes through in song, in painting, in prose and poetry, it is a pervasive thought of all that man is and strives to be through the good that man would do.
It is also evident in the perverse nature of man which cries out against God, not knowlegeable of what it is throwing itself against, but still casting its anger, vehemence, fury; lashing out, thumbing its nose, stealing jewels and crowns and taunting and vaunting itself against God with its blatant hatred towards His higher power. This is Satan, personified through the abject lusts that he offers and by which enslaves mankind.
It is in the former, the good that man would acheive, the virtuous pursuits, the higher hings of life, those things which seek the greater good, those things which try to answer, What is the good life? that we see the advancement of the thoughts of God revealed as an underlying principle of said pursuits. In those pursuits there lies the strongest of intent in searching for and finding truth, however subliminally cloaked, and yet obvious to an observer, who is able to identify these motives by looking through the eyes of the revealed truth found in Jesus Christ. The Kingdom of God is amomg us, it is personified in us as we reveal the life of Jesus Christ in us, and it is around us in the exhibition of the world yearning for its manifestation. The tension is exemplified in Luke 19:40,"... but He (Jesus) answered and said to them, 'I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out." The King has arrived and the tension that the world lives in, unless expressed, would result in the nature that God created having to take on the characteristics of man, in that they would speak, to glorify the Lord of all. The deity of God is an integral part of all that surrounds you and I, and is inseperable from this physical existence. Romans 1:20,"...for since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." Romans 8:19-22,"...for the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope, because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole of creation groans and labours with birth pangs together until now." The tension is further expounded in this passage as we see recorded here the futility, frailty, purposelessness of the earthly existence, in that, as the Preacher writes, "...all is vanity..." and "... because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink and be merry, for this wil remain with him in his labour all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun." Again in Isaiah 22:13, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die.' Again in 1 Corinthians 15:32, "...If the dead are not raised, 'let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die'.
The tension resultant of the perceived futilty of our earthly lives, lived without hope and relationship with God is evident. We see around us the despair and frustration of peple seeking out a positon of significance, searching for the heroic in their personal lives, knowing that the final state (death) carries with it an absence of historic import, an absence of eternal implication in the lives of those of their fellowship. Without recognition of the tension and the appropriate measures of resolving that tension the conclusion of life is meaningless, and the life lived was meaningless. The tension exists as a position between the hope always present, placed in the heart by God and the realization of the absolute powerlessness of their human effort to capture that hope in the heart, to have assurance of the fulfillment of their heart's desire in whatever manner.
Alas alas! what miserable creatures are we,
only the semblances of men!
and so shall we be all when we come to die.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We are part of the eschatological history of redemption, living as we do in the tension between the beginning of the end and its consummation at Christ’s return. Contextualization then is covenant activity taking place between the “already” of redemption accomplished in Christ and the “not yet” of redemption to be consummated in Christ.

The realization of that place of tension should create humility and patience with ourselves and with one another in the work of theologizing in context. It reminds us of the ease with which our perceptions of the gospel can be deeply influenced by unconscious impositions of cultural and socio-structural perspectives on the biblical data. Contrary to Alfred Krass’s opinion, biblical theology does not pride itself on its “objectivity,” its “presuppositionlessness,” its “value-neutrality” The “not yet” of biblical theology should make us “pervasively suspicious” about our ideas, our ideologies, our value judgments.