This is the third installment in a series of blogs meant to push us toward leaning into the Holy Spirit and engaging areas of tension.
Check out the first two posts here:
- Lean into the Tension by Ben Riche
- The Hidden Battle by Reggie Horne
In my first post on this subject I said that tension was built in to us by being uniquely created by God to live in relationship with each other. Each of us having our own gifts, talents, and skills – along with our individual backgrounds and stories – means we all have different, but valuable, perspectives and insights.
Look at what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:4-7; 12-13 (ESV):
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good… For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
Here’s the point, we together are being made into the body of Christ. Not one of us alone has all it takes to display Christ in ourselves to the world around us. No, Christ is best revealed through us to the world as we relate to one another, value one another, and work with one another for the “common good.” It takes each one of us to make the whole body.
We need each other and not just so that we can make use of the skills that each person brings to the table. Paul exhorts the Philippians to “strive side-by-side for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:28 ESV). We need to continually convince one another of the truth that God is for us and not against us, and His ways are better than ours.
Our perspectives are all different. We come from different places. We have carried different burdens – some that we tend to keep trying to carry alone instead of laying them at the cross of Christ. And it is with our varied perspectives that we can help each other see the gospel in new light where we have been blind. We must strive together to bring the gospel to bear in our actual lives and in how we live in this world together.
As we believe that God’s ways can be trusted and that He is for us, we can be obedient to pursue true community with one another. The tension will come. We are bound to rub each other wrong as we continually fight to put away ourselves and learn to love the way that God loves. This is The Hidden Battle that Reggie expanded on in his previous post. As we lean into the tensions of community our own idols will be surfaced, and we need to be able to speak the gospel over ourselves and each other. I truly believe that as we obediently practice community like this we will be led to increasingly submit all of life to the empowering presence and Lordship of Jesus Christ individually and as a church.
So, perhaps we have talked enough about how good it is to lean into tension, although there is much more to be said for sure. Over the next several weeks we will be using this series as a place to practice listening in on the perspectives of others.
We have to do the work of listening first.
Francis Schaeffer was once asked how he would spend an hour if it was all the time he had to share the gospel with somebody. He responded that he would listen for 55 minutes and then, with the remaining 5 minutes, say something meaningful.
It is important to listen to people whose experiences are different than our own. I want to challenge us to listen intentionally as people share over the next several posts. If what you hear offends you, be careful to test the tension and lean into it by doing the heart work that Reggie challenged us with and by pushing to listen for the heart of the person who is sharing. My prayer is that these posts will be used to bring the gospel to bear in our own lives and allow us to learn where and how the gospel needs to be proclaimed in our community.