While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,
and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and
placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby,
keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them,
and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news
that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David
a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
(Luke 2:6–11 NIV11)
Tension. Tension can be defined as the state of being stretched tight; as a strained state or condition resulting from forces acting in opposition to each other.
Sometimes tension is a blessing.
Often tension is a curse.
Sometimes tension serves as a motivator, a deadline for when work must be done.
Often tension and its accompanying stress keeps us from doing what we must do.
Sometimes we create it.
Often it is created for us.
Depending on the circumstances or situation, tension is my enemy or my friend.
We all live with a certain amount of tension.
Christianity is not immune.
We sing this world is not my home and it isn’t. But in the here and now, that’s where I dwell. And so I live within the tension of striving for Kingdom realities in a world whose values are totally opposite.
Paul says in Ephesians 2:6 that we have been lifted up with Jesus and seated with Him in the heavenly places. And yet as another song says you can still find me living below in this old sinful world.
I am a Saint.
I am a Sinner.
I have been declared righteous through faith even though at times I succumb to temptation, I fail miserably.
The Apostle Paul once had a dialogue about tension that so resonates with my experience of life…
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?
Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
(Romans 7:21–25a NIV11)
Such is life in the now and not yet.
Such is the reason I cling to the story of Immanuel, God with us!
“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).”
(Matthew 1:22–23 NIV11)