There was an occasion that I needed to tow a car with only a rope. While I know this is not the safest option, it is the one we chose in the moment. My friend’s car had quit and I stopped to help. I pulled the rope out and we tied it to both cars. He put it in neutral and I slowly moved forward. Even though I was in the lead car, I was not completely in control of everything. The one in the follow car had responsibilities in this arrangement. One of the most important things to remember is to keep proper tension on the rope between the cars. During the speed up process that is easy. However as the route takes on a more normalized speed, the follow car must stay awake and aware of the situation. If tension is too loose then you might rear-end the lead car and cause trouble. If the tension is too tight because of lagging behind by braking too much the rope could break and then the follow car wrecks. The right amount of tension is required for a smooth ride into the garage.
Each of are sailing through life without much hassle beyond the normal. Yet, you feel like something is missing. You feel a loss though there has been death. The deep abiding joy you crave is unattainable. Then that fateful day arrives when someone explains to you how you can feel whole, new, fresh, and full of joy. As you place faith in Jesus Christ, He pulls you from the wreckage. We deeply desire to know Him more. We feel gratitude for what He did and act accordingly. But we are still here in our jobs, broken families, body aches and pains, and consequences of our choices yesterday.
We desperately want to just go and be with Jesus. We also want our friends to know the truth about God, Heaven, and forgiveness. We find ourselves in tension.
21 For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.u 22 Now if I live on in the flesh, this means fruitful work for me; and I don’t know which one I should choose. 23 I am pressured by both. I have the desire to leave and be with Christ—which is far better— 24 but to stay in the flesh is more necessary for you.
The more we follow Christ the farther away from our “old” life and “old” friends we become. We get involved in church and small groups. We build relationships and new friends. After a while, we have no more influence or opportunity to share the Gospel because we “left” them behind. Every encouragement to evangelize is met with guilt because we left them behind for our new church friends. They love us. They certainly don’t want us to be with “those” friends any longer.
On the other hand, if we maintain our friendships as we walk with Christ, our church friends may not be so happy. How could we still “hang” with them? Don’t we love Jesus? Don’t we know we are supposed to leave all that life behind because we have died to that life? Are we certain we gave our life to Jesus? Yet, every time we are encouraged to share the gospel we think of our old friends. We weep and pray for their soul.
This is the difficulty. To whom are we bound? Are we bound to God or the church? This tension is needed to keep us aware and alive until that time comes when we go to be with Jesus. If we feel no tension I would suggest something is wrong. If we are so entrenched in our life and our friends that we have no time to pray, read scripture, or serve in the Kingdom through church then we have issues. If we are so entrenched in church and our new life that we completely alienate those who would hear the Gospel from you we have issues.
I suggest a healthy tension. Like the tow rope that needs to have a proper tension through speed up, slow down, and turns, we must maintain a certain tension between church and culture. Like that tow rope, tie a knot to both parts of life. Allow the tension. Stay alert for turns and speed changes. Keep rolling!