Give sacrificially – Give willingly. Do justice – Love mercy. Let your heart break for the lost – Live your life here in reverent fear.
The Bible is full of staccato statements like those. They sound nice. Like bumper-stickers. Or poetry. But digging deeper, these statements create incredible tension. Example: What kind of heart can give both sacrificially and willingly? How can someone do justly and love mercy? I’m learning that the answer lies at the heart of what it means to follow Jesus.
For those who want to take Jesus seriously, both realities must exist and they must exist together. Jesus doesn’t afford His followers the luxury of preference. He did not open a buffet for you. Instead, He takes you His restaurant, seats you at His table, and serves you foods you’d never put on the same plate. And if that wasn’t enough, He has the boldness to insist you’ll absolutely love what you taste (Psalm 34:8).
(Incidentally, the “fruit” of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22 is singular – implying that spiritual growth is more like one giant fruit-bowl rather than unconnected side dishes).
You must give until it hurts and like it. You must delight when wrongs are righted and withhold judgment. You must allow your heart to break for this world while hoping for heaven.
The life that follows after Christ is a life of paradox and tension. Accepting contradicting realities in faith and embracing a life of tension has a curious effect – the gradual formation of a new heart – where sorrow and love flow mingled down and where fear and trembling give birth to a profound freedom.
- Find the tensions (there are plenty more than those listed above).
- Ask which side you instinctually prefer (this will help you learn more about yourself).
- Deliberately look for opportunities to learn the other side (this will stretch you).
- Find someone whose instincts are different (this will allow you to live in community).