Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tension Can Be Healthy?

Tension. It’s a word that often has negative connotations. We think of muscle tension (pain), nervous tension (pain), relational tension (pain), tension headaches (pain), hypertension (hurts and can kill). I could go on, but you get the idea. How about a complete elimination of tension from life? Hold on before you answer too quickly.
Some tension is necessary. The wires that support telephone poles function properly because of tension. Each string on a piano, violin, or guitar must have a specific amount of tension in order to make beautiful music. Were it not for a certain degree of tension in the right places in our bodies, we would all collapse in a heap on the floor. Some tension is healthy. Bob Kauflin talks about healthy tensions in worship:
Should congregational worship be planned or spontaneous? Is it for the head or the heart? Should our gatherings equip the church or be intelligible to non-Christians? These are all examples of what I call healthy tensions. Healthy tensions are aspects of Biblical worship that seem opposed to one another or in tension with one another, but both make up Biblical worship. And both are important to consider if we want to lead worship in a way that reflects biblical values and proportions.
A few years ago I was on vacation at the beach with my family and I thought I’d set up a volleyball net … by myself. So I stood up one pole in the sand and I attached two guidelines to stakes, and then I ran as fast as I could to the other side to set up the other pole before the first one fell down. I didn’t make it. I tried again and didn’t make it again. I tried one more time and still didn’t make it. And what I realized was … that unless the two poles were pulling in opposite directions at the same time providing this tension, the net wasn’t going to stay up. In the same way when we fail to pursue the healthy tensions of Biblical worship, it’s like putting up one pole of a volleyball net. It won’t stand. And it certainly won’t reflect the healthy tensions we find in the Bible in places like Psalm 2 where we are told to rejoice with trembling.
The reality is Jesus Christ is so glorious, He’s so great, He’s so magnificent that no single form, style, liturgy or structure can ever completely or fully express His greatness. So we need to be constantly evaluating our practices to make sure they’re really magnifying Him. My prayer – and I trust it’s yours – is that our meetings in churches will be places where God is worshiped in spirit and truth, where people can exalt God without having to choose sides, and where the glory of Jesus Christ is truly seen in everything we do.

There will always be tension. Let’s pray that we keep it healthy. That’s enough to think about for now. The peace of Christ to you.


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