Day 42: Tension (Luke 18:1-30)
Today’s Passage: Luke 18:1-30
Do you ever feel tension in this Christian life? I do. For me it comes in various forms. Here are just a few.
First is prayer. Sometimes I feel like God, who knows all, is listening to my prayers and sighing. Now, this is my issue, not God’s. Nonetheless, it creates in me tension. Maybe because I have not yet heard from God, or maybe he is saying no/not yet, and I am having trouble accepting it. I think, maybe I should move on. Yet I know God wants to hear from me. The result is tension.
Second, I know our life is a life to be lived in response to God, who first loved us—it is to be a life lived by grace. Yet I also know that for me, responding to God takes energy. Further, this type of life will be opposed by spiritual forces that are seeking to destroy. Therefore, by my way of thinking, there is some work involved in this Christian journey.
Typing the word “work” may make some of you crazy because you think a life of grace doesn’t involve work. I think it does. The tension comes in the maintaining of posture toward God. Do I, at times, look like the proud person in the temple? It is a daily struggle—a tension.
Third is material success. I was raised that poverty was a virtue. It can be, but that teaching is incomplete. Some, not all, are called to a life of poverty. Further, living a life of poverty can become an idol. Pursuing comfort, or pursuing poverty, for the wrong reasons, messes with my head.
Yet my framing poverty as a potential idol does not release me from Jesus’ words to the rich ruler. The cold hard fact is that living in United States puts me (and you) in the top percentiles of the world’s wealthiest people. Add to it a few other parameters, and it becomes pretty obvious that billions and billions of people have much harder lives. Is that okay?
Many a sermon has hung on the way the question was asked of Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I DO to inherit eternal life?” There are two possible right answers. First, keep all the Law perfectly, or second, follow Jesus. The ruler chooses the first path, and even proclaims he has kept all the laws, to which Jesus goes to the heart of the matter: the ruler’s heart.
I however am left with a tension, the tension of my being a benefactor of my United States birth.