Sometimes Tension is What We Need
Imagine a conversation with some people you know and care about, and a topic comes up when the opinions are diverse, and the emotions are high. There is a tension that builds, as people navigate the balance of sharing their passion with someone who doesn't agree while also attempting to avoid burning a bridge or making this the last conversation shared.
We've all been there, we've all felt it, tension can be a really uncomfortable feeling, and if we're not careful, we will live avoiding tension at all costs. We might surround ourselves with people who think like we do, converse with people who have the same stance on important matters as we do, and avoid the guy at the office who we know we don't see eye to eye with.
The problem with this approach to living is, sometimes tension is exactly what we need to grow and learn for our next season.
This is true amongst most people, and certainly the church is not exception. The unintended consequence of this living is we end up vilifying people groups or perspectives by throwing them in a general category. We're able to do this, because we don't know their name, we don't picture their face. It's just a vague group of "conservative thinkers" or a far off demographic of "liberal thinkers." Please don't get stuck on these two categories, insert extroverts/introverts, artistic/linear thinkers or whatever else may apply.
Once we know someone, have a friend who is dear to us, and passionate about a differing point of view, it forces us to look at the perspective in a different light. We can't vilify the perspective because we know this friend, they are kind, they are intelligent, they are caring, and they mean something to you.
The beauty of this is a healthy tension that arises from this scenario. We are forced to look at a perspective with a fresh set of critical eyes. Critical to understand, not critical to criticize.
Although this is challenging, it is also an extremely healthy and helpful practice. It helps us to see more clearly, more broadly, more kindly, and more accurately.
James 1:19-21 says, "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls."
We are called to listen frequently, and speak less, we are not to be drawn into angry debates, that is not righteousness, that is not God. Instead, put aside false virtue selfish intentions; instead be humble, be meek, and listen for God's voice and God's direction in every conversation in every circumstance. This will make your soul full and fulfilled.
Let tension come, embrace it, really listen to understand, and think hard before you speak. You will grow in ways you didn't expect, and you will show the love of God to people who are far from you.