In John 15 Jesus talks about being in the world but not of the world. What does this mean? The realities for those who are in the world seem to be the same as my reality. In spiritual moments I can talk about a future hope I have, but that doesn’t seem to change my everyday experience. Everything from how am I going pay for my boys college education to what will happen if we bomb Syria? Jesus was really good at speaking out of both sides of his mouth. One moment he is calling his followers to pick up their crosses and follow and the next he is calling people to himself because his yoke is easy and his burden light. Which is it: the heavy burden of the cross or the weightless yoke? Experience tells me it is a little of both. And we don’t always get to control if it is easy or hard.
In some ways the ministry I work for operates out of the same spirit. We are both tolerant and intolerant. On one hand we are open to participants who “don’t get it,” but on the other we do not have a whole lot of tolerance for people who are content to live out their racial prejudice or stereotypes.
The willingness to live in tension seems to be a critical trait for followers of Jesus. Rarely does the Christian faith fall into neat packages. And quit frankly I am tired of people who keep trying to jam a neat prepackaged faith down my throat. It doesn’t feel authentic.
Any of us living in the real world know that a prayer of faith does not always result in healing, but praying for healing is still a good thing to do. Giving my 10% does not mean God will bless me with an abundance of money, but giving does help me to see a world beyond myself. As a pacifist I am not going to stand idly by and do nothing when justice is required; I just get to be more creative in my responses.
I once had a college professor who said that consistency is the pursuit of the fool. I am still working out the “truth” of his statement. In that spirit a Christian faith that doesn’t speak out of both sides of one’s mouth might not be authentic.