Sometimes Christian living feels a lot like stretching.
Like that sort of painful and also kind of pleasant, deep hamstring, touch-your-toes-and-count-to-15 kind of gym class stretch. That yearning, almost-snapping-rubber-band feeling. The tension.
Life for us following the cross is full of that tension.
We live in a broken, fallen, hurting world. Yet in the midst of the destruction we wrought upon ourselves, Jesus points us back to the way it was supposed to be- to Creation, to perfection, to before we said no.
It's like we've got one foot in New Creation and one in Old.
I'm a new being in Christ... but I have a lot of the old habits.
I'm blameless and sinless through the cross... but in just the few hours I've been awake today, I've told a lie, coveted my neighbor, and had an ungrateful attitude.
We're called to love... and also called to a life of demanding holiness that often looks a lot like we're being judgmental.
It's so easy for us to resist that tension. We ask questions, we try to wrap our heads around an unknowable God. Honestly, sometimes it's hard to make sense of Him. At the crux of all this tension, we find ourselves asking...
Did God really say that?
Sin entered the world when humanity determined that we knew more than God. That His words to us weren't really what He meant.
It gets us into trouble even today.
We know that sin surrounds us.
We know that all of us do wrong, or neglect to do right, on a daily, hourly basis. We all sin. We all fall short of the glory that God created us for.
We all sin. But that doesn't mean that sin is okay.
There's tension there.
The way I am is not the way I am supposed to be.
We have a choice, as Christians.
We can twist the words of God. We can say, well, culturally, this law and that law no longer apply. We can choose what we believe and what we throw away as insignificant because it doesn't fit into our worldview. God didn't really mean that.
Or, instead of changing God's words to fit us, we can live with that tension. The constant hard work of not being where we need to be, of living lives of constant need for grace, need for mercy. Continually stretched towards holiness, even when I don't understand, trusting that my ways are not His ways, but His ways are infinitely better.
In our world, in this time, Christians are being killed. Beheaded. Taken from their homes. Women forced into marriage and raped.
Because they follow the Way of the Cross.
How easy it would be for our persecuted brothers and sisters to say,
"A loving God would not ask us to suffer for His name."
"Jesus didn't really mean it when he said, 'I am the Way, the Truth, the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me.'"
Instead, they hold fast to a love they can't fully understand. They suffer, they die, and they go to Glory.
They chose to live, and to die, in the tension.