Saturday, March 04, 2006

We live amidst tension: the desire to be rooted vs. the lure of the unknown; the desire for relationship vs. the fear of being fully known. We know much destruction and injustice over which we mourn, yet the truth, beauty, and goodness, of which we catch glimpses, motivates us to hope.

What happens at this point of tension, where we are left without explanation, without understanding? We, humans, who think we posess an infinate capacity, are spun into confusion. We gravitate toward despair, and we find ourselves a bit paralyzed. This is the abstract consequence; the hard to name result.

But, what about the practical? What outward manifestation of this tension occurs? Many things. Many iterations of the same thing, many different things. Words will not capture the variety and depth of how this tension plays out in each of our lives. But, if we stop and think for a moment, and we are honest, we know that this tension is real and that it affects our lives.

For me, it motivates me toward comfort. I do not like the way the tension between grief and hope feels. I do not like the questions it leaves me with. I do not like the incongruity that graits against my soul.

And so, I flee.

Though there are perhaps uncountable ways in which this tension shows up on a day to day basis in our lives, I believe that we all deal with it in largely the same way, but with different tools.

However, what is consistent is our desire to flee. We leave the scene of the crime as quickly as we can. We do not like the fact that amidst this tension, it takes strength to live, it takes courage to move, it takes perseverance to continue. This tension presents a battle. And if and how we fight makes all of the difference.

What is your reaction? In what direction do you flee? To what or whom do you turn? How has it worked for you? Be honest.

If we answer these questions in honesty, I believe it leaves us with only one conclusion: the places and people to whom we flee fail us and we fail them. In and of ourselves, left alone, we cannot bridge the tension.

I believe the tension must be bridged. Grief must be linked to hope. It must. Otherwise, nothing matters. But if I cannot do it then what can? Better yet, who can? I believe that God, the Creator, can and does.

We have, of course, seen the Ultimate Bridge, although in an unlikely form--a young man, who spent his time with beggars and the sick and unfaithful people, and who died an unbelievably embrassing and painful death on a cross. He was right there, standing in the gap between grief and hope, linking darkness to light. Christ, I imagine, felt the unbearable weight that we feel to a degree that is unfathomable. And precisely because He did and did not flee, grief and hope are ultimately bridged.

Ironically, though, I also believe that God does bridge grief to hope through me...and you...and you...and you...and you....God uses us, finite creatures, to bring light to darkness, freedom to the imprisoned, justice to injustice, and hope to grief.

But, all too often, we flee, whether it is toward comfort or something else, our hearts naturally do not want to embrace what it means to be in battle at the point between grief and hope.

People are asking a question these days: "What does it mean to be a Counterculture for the common good?" Very smart Christians are exploring this question and proposing ideas and answers. While I do not claim to know what it takes or how to even begin thinking about where to start, I do think it happens at the in-between place, in the middle of grief and hope. I think it has something to do with being a bridge, built by God, for His Glory.

Let Christ motivate us to avoid fleeing and, dare I say, even seek this point of tension, to live in the midst of it, for His Glory. My guess is that we will be shaped personally and as a community, both locally and globally, and what will emerge is a "counterculture for the common good."

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