Have you noticed how humanity often polarizes? Viewing life through the lens of extremes on a spectrum are commonplace. We speak of the left vs the right; for vs against, anti vs pro, right vs wrong, black vs white… isn’t it interesting the use of the small but powerful word ‘versus’? There is something inherent in humanity that causes us to divide. We love creating false dichotomies. I wonder if this is because we don’t always understand the essential need in life for tension.

Tension releases energy, and energy is needed for life. Therefore an absence of tension reveals a lack of energy, Without tension, we are dead. But tension can be uncomfortable; dealing with competing or even opposing ideas or forces is challenging. Remove the tension, and we remove the energy it brings to us. This energy is key for growth and life.

For example, physiologically our muscles are held in tension in pairs. This allows movement and breathing as one set expands and the other contracts. Emotionally, we often live in tension as we continually navigate competing emotions around us. Just as Ecclesiastes 3 tells us, there are times of weeping and laughter, of dancing and mourning, and many others.

Spiritually we also live in tension. Or rather, we should be! Tension is something that should characterise an apostolic people, and a prophetic people. The apostolic ministry creates tension because what we see from heaven is not fully manifested on the earth. The prophetic ministry also create tensions, because what we see today is not what we are seeing in our tomorrow. The healthy Christian life, by default, requires the ability to steward tension well and use it as a provocation to pull more of heaven to earth, and more of tomorrow into today.

Some are uncomfortable with these tensions and have developed a theology that removes the tension of the apostolic or prophetic by explaining why these two offices are no longer for today. But simply put, removing the tension they bring merely gives us a false comfort and removes the very energy and impetus God intended to motivate his people to act to see more of heaven on earth, and more of tomorrow into today. Remove apostolic tension, and we see people living for earths rewards from earths perspectives. Remove prophetic tension, and we will observe people living without hope, purely for the rewards of today.

The apostolic creates tension which motivates us to continue seeking the More of the Kingdom. The prophetic creates tension because the prophesied tomorrow doesn’t make sense with today’s circumstances. But these two aspects demonstrate to us the importance of tension. The tension created by the apostolic and prophetic releases an energy to God’s people that leads to movement. Living apostolically and living prophetically should result in action. So how are you responding to tension? What are you doing with it? What movement and energy is it producing in your life?

This post is part of a series called Towards a United Kingdom, which can be purchased in audio or video format here.