The single word that best describes my feeling about teaching the Bible is tension.

I constantly sense the pull towards orthodoxy because of my belief in God. My faith in a Creator compels me to be faithful to what I believe is his self-revelation in Nature and Scripture.

I feel the pull towards compromise when I consider the people to whom I minister. Not only do I want to empathize with their real life situations, I also feel the junior high pressure to be regarded, received and respected.

As a minister, I have to live in this tension.

There are two ways I can relieve this tension, but I find neither to be appealing.

I can loosen my grip on the revelation of God. I don’t have to let go entirely, however, just the most offensive doctrines. On the other hand, I can let go of real relationships with people. I can keep them at arms length so that teaching hard things becomes easier.

As Martin Luther said (in a far more daunting context than the coffee house from where I’m writing this), “Here I stand. I can do no other.”

I find myself stretched, pulled…even torn.  I guess a decision to follow Christ, who was literally torn, is a commitment to live in tension. His obedience to his father, and his compassion for the world put him not only in harms way, but in the way of the cross.

Thus, the cross presents us with the greatest tension of all.

To the bitter end, Christ did not let go. And neither can we.