I value appropriate tension on my guitar strings; proper tuning is impossible without tension. However, I grow weary of relational and cultural tension. With the guitar, the tuning mechanism is pulling the strings against the bridge; the correct tension of the string is necessary for melody and harmony. With people, tension is the result of divergent ideas that pull against one another, often resulting in disharmony. Culturally, we have faced months of tension over racial issues, over Covid responses and over political matters. People are experiencing a genuine fatigue over all these things. Even guitar strings lose their “song” eventually. The tension that once brought ringing sounds produces string fatigue that brings dullness and difficulty with intonation. In Acts 21, Paul went to Jerusalem with high hopes for unity but he walked into a very tense situation. Politically, Jerusalem was a powder keg just waiting for a match. Even the church was struggling. The Jewish Gentile division was always a source of tension and this was especially true in the geographical center of Judaism and the birthplace of the church. There’s no guarantee or fire-proof plan to eliminate tension among believers but we’ll see that some of God’s people found a way to receive one another gladly and glorify God. I pray some of us will do the same.
Have you heard that phrase before? Have you ever been paralyzed in life because you were trying to find the perfect will of God and couldn’t seem to locate it? Have you ever had something go really wrong and assumed that it was because you missed the perfect will of God? Have you ever sought the will of God only in an effort to be safe? Have you ever been disappointed with God because you thought you did His will but then things didn’t turn out like you planned? Living for perfection can get a little complicated. Sometimes we check all the boxes and things still don’t work. Few people really believe that God simply causes everything. Of those that believe humans have at least a measure of free will, some would like their will to be in harmony with God’s will. They even pray as Jesus taught, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” But what if God’s will is to leave some things to our will? What if there are some decisions that God has no particular will about and therefore whatever we choose is within the perfect will of God? These are the kinds of questions that come up as we read Acts 21. We’ll be returning to the narrative in Acts this week and Paul’s decisions raise some interesting possibilities. I hope we’ll see you under the tent for worship and a textual journey with Paul to Jerusalem.