Now more than ever, I feel that Jesus followers must learn to live in the tension around us. Our generation absolutely cannot afford to get this wrong. We must learn to live in the tension in our neighborhoods, our marriages, our friendships, and especially our roles as mothers. As a living, breathing vessel of God’s presence and love, I have to get to the point where I’m okay with not having all the answers.
There are gay people attending my church, men and women who want to get to know Jesus better without leaving their old lives behind. There are women of color with whom I connect online from all over the country, women who carry a painfully different perspective on community and justice than I do. There are days I swear up and down my husband would be a little more like Jesus if he’d just listen to me, but he doesn’t. And there are days I look at my kids like they are aliens and I can’t figure out why God gave them to me and I wonder if we will all make it out alive.
And that’s just it. That’s the gospel. Jesus gave me his life so that I don’t have to have mine all figured out. Not only that, Jesus gave me his life so that I can tell others that they don’t have to have theirs all figured out either. I can make disciples of people without fixing all of their problems. And that is good news.
So back to this idea of living in tension, the concept that has completely derailed me recently. I am a huge, HUGE fan of the grace versus works tension and I want to hang out here for a minute. I’ve always been a hard worker and I grew up in the church, so naturally I lean towards this idea that idle hands are sinful and we all need to be doing our part all of the time. Recently, I even went so far as to pick a fight with my husband about when I feel it is the appropriate time of day to sit on the couch – after the kids go to bed. And yet, I’m quick to swing hard into the idea of grace and the simplicity of salvation when it applies to my own mess.
I believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead so that I could have life and life abundantly. I believe that he did it because he loved me, that my name was on his lips when he hung on the cross and when he walked out of the tomb. I know that all I have to do is believe with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and confess with my tongue that God raised him from the dead. I believe that I could sit on that truth for the rest of my life and do nothing about it, and that I’d still see him someday in heaven, smiling at me. And therefore, I’m thankful for grace.
But I also believe that faith without works is dead. I believe that the gospel compels. I believe that once we become Jesus followers, we’re left with a task of bringing heaven down to earth. That sounds like a beautifully heavy task, but a very clearly defined command. I believe that my entire life should be about the Great Commission, and going out into all the world to make disciples is an active charge. I believe God created me to be a hard worker, someone who loves moving and achieving and pressing forward. And therefore, I’m thankful for works.
So which is it? Grace or works? Where does this tension leave me? Can I find the sweet spot in the middle? And the answer, I think, is that there doesn’t have to be an answer. There doesn’t have to be a sweet spot. God is still good. He doesn’t need a sweet spot. He is the sweet spot. He is the answer. So I learn to live in the tension. And I can call it good, because He is good.