Tension Within: Monday Monologues, Podcast on January 20, 2020

Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018
Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a  prayer and reflect on the Tension Within Ourselves.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on this link.

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Tension Within: Monday Monologues, Podcast on January 20, 2020

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Corner_2020

 

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Tension Within Ourselves

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101For I do not understand my own actions. 

For I do not do what I want, 

but I do the very thing I hate. (Rom 7:15)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

As North Americans, we are the best fed and most pampered generation of all time; yet, our young people and senior citizens are committing suicide at historically high rates and “ordinary children today are more fearful than psychiatric patients were in the 1950s.” (Lucado 2012, 5) Why?

Isolated from Ourselves

One answer is that we have become painfully isolated from ourselves: “We live in a society in which loneliness has become one of the most painful human wounds” (Nouwen 2010, 89). Our isolation has been magnified by a loss of faith and community, leaving us vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Isolated people often ruminate about the past. In ruminating, obsessing about a personal slight, real or imaged, amplifying small insults into big ones. For psychiatric patients who are not good at distinguishing reality and illusion, constant internal repetition of even small personal slights is not only amplified, it is also remembered as a separate event. Through this process of amplification and separation, a single spanking at age 8 could by age 20 grow into a memory of daily beatings.

Rumination

Amplified in this way, rumination absorbs the time and energy normally focused on meeting daily challenges and planning for the future. By interfering with normal activities, reflection, and relationships, rumination slows normal emotional and relational development and the ruminator becomes increasingly isolated from themselves, from God, and from those around them. Why do we care? We care because everyone ruminates and technology leads us to ruminate more than other generations. The ever-present earphone with music, the television always on, the constant texting, the video game played every waking hour, and the work that we never set aside all function like rumination to keep dreary thoughts from entering our heads. Much like addicts, we are distracted every waking hour from processing normal emotions and we become anxious and annoyed when we are forced to tune into our own lives, a kind of escalation behavior in the language of psychiatrics. Rumination, stress addiction, and other obsessions have become mainstream lifestyles that leave us fearful when alone and in today’s society we are frequently alone even in the company of others. We are in tension with ourselves.

A Heavy Burden

Jesus sees our tension and offers to relieve it, saying: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt 11:28-30) Self-centered rumination is a heavy burden, not a light one. Jesus models the Sabbath rest, prayer, and forgiveness that break rumination by encouraging us to look outside ourselves. In Sabbath rest we look outside ourselves to share in God’s peace, to reflect on Christ’s forgiveness, and to accept the Holy Spirit’s invitation to prayer. In prayer we commune with God where our wounds can be healed, our strength restored, and our eyes opened to our sin, brokenness, and need for forgiveness. When we sense our need for forgiveness, we also see our need to forgive. In forgiveness, we value relationships above our own personal needs which break the cycle of sin and retaliation in our relationships with others and, by emulating Jesus Christ, we draw closer to God in our faith. Faith, discipleship, and ministry require that we give up obsessing with ourselves. On our own, our obsessions are too strong and we cannot come to faith, grow in our faith, or participate in ministry. For most people, faith comes through prayer, reading scripture, and involvement in the church, all inspired by the Holy Spirit. For the original apostles, the discipling was done by Jesus himself.

Honored

In the Beatitudes, Jesus tutors the disciples and says that we will be honored in at least three ways: Honored are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Honored are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Honored are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. (Matt 5:3–5) Jesus takes the world’s threats to our identity, self-worth, and personal dignity and reframes them as promises that we will receive the kingdom of heaven, be comforted, and inherit the earth. But, Jesus ties these promises to discipleship as part of his yoke (Matt 11:28-30) and does not extended them to spectators.

REFERENCES

Lucado, Max. 2012. Fearless. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. Nouwen, Henri J.M. 2010. Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society (Orig pub 1972). New York: Image Doubleday.

Tension Within Ourselve

Also see:

Preface to a Life in Tension

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/XXXmas_2019  

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Tensión entre Nosotros Mismo

Vida_en_Tensión_front_20200102Porque lo que hago, no lo entiendo. 

Porque no practico lo que quiero hacer, 

sino que lo que aborrezco, eso hago. 

(Rom 7:15)

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Como norte-americanos, somos la generación mejor alimentado y más mimada de todo tiempo; sin embargo, nuestros jóvenes y personas mayores se suicidan a tasas históricamente alto y “los hijos comunes de hoy día tienen más temor que los pacientes psiquiátricos durante los 1950s anos.”⁠1  ¿Porque?

Aisolado de Nosotros Mismo

Una respuesta es que nos hemos estado dolorosamente aisolado de nosotros mismo: “Vivimos en una sociedad en la que la soledad se ha convertido en la heridas humanas más dolorosas.”⁠2 Nuestra aisoladidad ha estado magnificado por la perdida de fe y comunidad, dejándonos vulnerables a la ansiedad y la depresión.

La gente aisolada a menudo rumia sobre el pasado. Por causa de esta rumia, obsesionarse con un leve personal, real o imágenado, amplificando pequeños insultos en grandes. Por los pacientes psiquiátricos, quienes no tienen facilidad a diferenciar realidad y ilusión, esta constante repetición, desaires personales son no solo se amplifica sino que también se recuerda como eventos separados. A través de esta proceso de amplificación y separación, una sola zurra por edad ocho podría por edad veinte  se memorar como palizas diarias.

La Rumia

Ampliado en esta manera, la rumia absorta el tiempo y la energía que normalmente seria enfocar en enfrentar los desafíos diarios y planificar para la futura. Por interferir con actividades normales de reflexión y relaciones, la rumination ralentiza el normal proceso de emocional y relacional desarrollo y el ruminator se convierte increasiamente aislado de si mismo, de Dios, y los demás cerca a él.

¿Porqué tenemos interés? Nos importa porque todo el mundo rumia y la tecnología lídenos a ruminar más que generaciones previas. Los siempre-presente auriculares con música, el televisor siempre encendida, el constante textando, el videojuego que se juga cada hora del día, y el trabajo que nunca dejamos de lado—todos funcionar como rumia a guardar que pensamientos tristes nunca de entrar nuestras cabezas. Al igual que los adictos, cada hora del día nos distraemos del procesamiento de las emociones normales y nos sentimos ansiemos y molestamos cuando nos vemos obligados a sintonizar de nuestras propias vidas, un tipo de comportamiento de escalada en la lengua de psiquiátricos. La rumination, adicción de estreso, y otras obsesiones se convierten a estilos de vida convencionales que dejarnos temerosos cuanto somos solos y en la sociedad de hoy somos solos frecuentemente incluso en compañía de otros. Estamos en tensión con nosotros mismos.

Una Carga Pesada

Jesús ve nuestra tensión y ofrece a aliviarla, diciendo:

Vengan a mí, todos los que están cansados y cargados, y yo los haré descansar. Tomen mi yugo sobre ustedes y aprendan de mí, que yo soy manso y humilde de corazón, y hallaran descanso para sus almas. Porque mi yugo es fácil y mi carga ligera. (Matt 11:28-30)

Egocéntrica rumia esta una carga pesada, no una ligera. Jesús modela el descanso sabático, oración, y perdón que rompen rumia al alentarnos nos a mirar fuera de nosotros mismo. En el descanso sabático miramos fuera de nosotros mismo para compartir la paz de Dios, a reflexionar sobre el perdón de Cristo, y a aceptar la invitación del Espíritu Santo de la oración. En la oración nos comunicamos con Dios donde nuestras heridas puedan estar sanado, nuestra fuerza restaurada, y nuestros ojos abiertado a nuestros pecados, quebrantamiento, y necesidad para perdón. Cuando sentimos nuestra necesidad para perdón, también vemos nuestra necesidad a perdonar. En el perdón, valoramos relaciones por encima de nuestra propia necesidades personal lo que rompe el ciclo de pecado y retaliación en nuestras relaciones con las demás y, al emular Jesucristo, nos acercamos a Dios en nuestra fe.

La fe, el discipulado, y el ministerio requieren que dejemos de obsesionar con nosotros mismo. Por nuestra cuenta, nuestras obsesiones son demasiado fuertes, y no podemos llegar a fe, crecer en la fe, o participar en ministerio. Para la mayoría, la fe llega por media de la oración, leer las escrituras, y la participación en la iglesia, todas inspirado por el Espíritu Santo. Para los apóstoles originales, el discipulado fue realizado por Jesús mismo.

Honrados

En las Bienaventuranzas, Jesús enseña a los discípulos y dice que seremos honorado al menos de tres maneras:

Honrados son los pobres en espíritu, pues de ellos es el reino de los cielos. Honrados son los que lloran, pues ellos serán consolados. Honrados son los humildes, pues ellos heredarán la tierra. (Matt 5:3-5)

Jesús toma las amenazas del mundo a nuestra identidad, autoestima, y dignidad personal y las reformula como promises que receiveremos el reino de los cielos, ser consolados, y heredar la tierra. Pero, Jesús vincula estas promesas al discipulado como parte de su yugo (Matt 11:28-30) y no extiendálas al espectadores. 

Notas

1 “Ordinary children today are more fearful than psychiatric patients were in the 1950s.” (Lucado 2012, 5).

2 “We live in a society in which loneliness has become one of the most painful human wounds” (Nouwen 2010, 89)

Referencias

Lucado, Max. 2012. Fearless. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Nouwen, Henri J.M. 2010. Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society (Orig pub 1972). New York: Image Doubleday.

Tensión entre Nosotros Mismo

Ver también:

Gospel as Divine Template

Otras formas de participar en línea:

Sitio del autor: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net,

Sitio del editor: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Boletín informativo: http://bit.ly/XXXmas_2019

 

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Gospel as Divine Template

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom 10:9 ESV)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Christianity began in a graveyard with the resurrection (Ps 16:10). The resurrection could not have occurred without Jesus’ crucifixion and death which was, in turn, associated with his life and ministry. Because Jesus’ life and ministry were chronicled after the resurrection, each sentence in the New Testament should be prefaced with these words: Jesus rose from the dead, therefore . . . Jesus’ life, ministry, suffering, death, and resurrection are the Gospel story, which we know because after the Gospels themselves, sermons by both Peter (Acts 2:14–41; 10:34–43) and Paul (Acts 13:16–41) all focus on Jesus’ life story.

The Template

Just before his death the Apostle Paul writes from prison:

that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3:10-11)

In other words, the Jesus story—life, ministry, suffering, death, and resurrection—was for Paul a template for the Christian journey of faith, beginning with the end in mind. Yet, we know that the end of the story—like its beginning—is in Christ and provides Christian hope (1 Pet 1:3). 

While our eyes remain on the prize (Phil 3:14) and our expectations for the end times, our relationship with each member of the Trinity sustains us day to day. The Holy Spirit is with us, empowers us, and helps us to break the power of sin. Jesus Christ’s life and ministry models a faithful life in a stressful world. God Our Father demonstrates love, grace, and sovereignty over all earthly powers. Because of God’s sovereign power and presence, our hope of the resurrection transforms into our hope in Christ (Col 1:24).

Begin with the End in Mind

The resurrection accordingly influenced how early Christians read the Beatitudes, as in: Jesus rose from the dead, therefore “Honored are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:3) Notice that the Beatitude explicitly refers to the kingdom of heaven—a place of healing and rest where the resurrected are assumed to go. Because early Christians read this Beatitude in view of the resurrection, so should postmoderns. 

More typically, postmoderns read the Beatitudes as “pie in the sky”—unobtainable and unrealistic. But how much risk is there in buying a stock if you already have tomorrow’s stock report? If tomorrow’s paper eliminates today’s risk, why dawdle in buying the stock? Unobtainable and unrealistic goals suddenly become reasonable— in light of the resurrection common fishermen become extraordinary apostles.

Knowing that the end of the story is in Christ, the Beatitudes outline the three tensions in our spiritual life: our inward tension with ourselves (poor in spirit, mourning, and meekness), our upward tension with God (righteous, merciful, and pure), and our outward tension with the world (peacemakers, persecuted, and reviled). Inward tension exists, but we know the Holy Spirit will guide us. Upward tension exists, but we know that God loves us. Outward tension exists, but we have Christ’s example in seeking reconciliation and an open door to the future (Rev 3:20).

Tension was not the Plan

Because of our reconciliation with God, we know that our sinful nature which drives this tension was not part of God’s original design. Breaking God’s design, sin emerged in the Garden of Eden as Adam and Eve turned away from God and allowed sin to enter their lives (Gen 3:6). Yet, even as sin entered the world and tensed up our lives, God provided for our restoration through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Gen 3:15).

Jesus rose from the dead, therefore our faith starts with God, not with us.

Gospel as Divine Template

Also see:

Preface to a Life in Tension

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/XXXmas_2019  

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Tension: Monday Monologues (Podcast), January 6, 2020

Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018
Stephen W Hiemstra, 2018

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

This morning I will share a  prayer and reflect on tension.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

To listen, click on the link below:

Hear the words; Walk the steps; Experience the joy!

Tension: Monday Monologues, January 6, 2020 (podcast)

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/XXXmas_2019

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Preface to a Life in Tension

Life_in_Tension_revision_front_20200101“Be holy because I am holy 

says the Lord God.”

(Lev 11:44)

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

When God enters our lives, we change. This change occurs as we increasingly reflect Christ’s divine image in our lives and the Holy Spirit works in our hearts and minds as we behold him (2 Cor 3:16-18). The Apostle Paul calls this process sanctification (Rom 6:19), which means that we accept Christ’s invitation to a lifelong journey to become more holy—sacred and set apart—and the Holy Spirit’s guidance along the way. As Christ’s church—the called out ones, our sanctification is a group activity and, like any activity where individuals  travel at their own pace, tension among believers is expected.

Introduction

Tension? What tension? Sanctification is necessary because we sin. Sin separates us from other people, from God, and from the person that God created us to be. Sanctification presumably reduces our sin, encourages us to abide in union with God and draws us closer to the person that God created us to be, but it also widens the gap between us and those resisting the Holy Spirit (1 Thess 5:19). Consequently, sin and sanctification can both potentially tense up all three relationships.

Tension comes up daily, as a pastor observes:

Would you drink from a dirty cup? No—of course not. If you were given a dirty cup, you would refuse the cup and ask for another.⁠1

Someone accustomed to clean cups immediately recognizes a dirty one. When we model our lives after Christ, we reveal our identity as Christians; we are set apart from those around us in tension with the world. As conscious image bearers, we naturally begin to share in the tension that exists between God and this world, which implies that how we live and how we die matters to God.

This tension that we feel is a subjective mirror image to three gaps that we can objectively describe. The first gap is within each of us and it describes the distance between our natural selves and the person who God created us to be. This gap can lead to humiliation in the eyes of the world and shame within us, as we realize how far we have fallen from God’s image for us. The second is gap is between us and others and it can lead to isolation, ridicule, and persecution, as we can no longer run with the crowd or accept its norms. The third is the gap between us and God created by sin can lead to feelings of fear, abandonment, and a loss of spiritual power, as we realize what it means to live without God’s presence and blessings.

Can you feel the tension created by these gaps—the shame, the isolation, and the fear? Can you imagine being persecuted for your beliefs? Are you okay with it or do you try to run away? How do we respond creatively to this tension?

Alone with these three gaps, we are lost; but in Christ we are never alone. Christ works in our lives to close these gaps through his reconciling example in life, his atoning work on the cross and his enabling gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us by grace through faith to participate actively in our own sanctification while experiencing God’s peace in the midst of life’s tensions.

The Beatitudes

Early in his ministry, Jesus preached a sermon, a kind of commissioning service for his disciples. He advised his disciples to be humble, mourn, be meek, chase after righteousness, be merciful, be holy, make peace, be persecuted for the right reasons, and wear persecution as a badge of honor (Matt 5:1–11). Incredibly, in the middle of this sermon and in spite of expected opposition, Jesus says:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matt 5:14-16)

This parable about light offers two important insights for our understanding of tension. First, this passage makes no sense unless tension exists between darkness and light—light normally drives out darkness. Second, this passage alludes to the creation accounts where we read:

The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. . . . And God said, Let there be light, and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. (Gen 1:2–4)

Creation involved creating light. The implication is that Christians who embrace tension with the world are participating in a second creation (or re-creation) event (2 Cor 5:17).

Recognizing Christ’s re-creative work in our lives, we participate through the power of the Holy Spirit, not only in our own sanctification, but in the sanctification of others. In other words, progress in reducing one gap in our lives affects the other two. (Nouwen 1975, 15).  Attending to the sin in our lives, for example, makes it easier to get along with others and helps us to be more receptive to the Holy Spirit. Likewise, reducing our gap with God helps us appreciate God’s love for those around us and sensitizes us to the corrupting power of sin in our own lives. In God’s economy is nothing is wasted.

Structure of the Book

In exploring the spiritual dimensions of tension in our lives, I reflect on the Beatitudes in Matthew’s Gospel. The Beatitudes introduce Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and prioritize his teaching. Because the sermon serves as an ordination service for the disciples, the importance of the Beatitudes for the early church, Christian spirituality, and discipleship cannot be overstated.⁠2

The chapters in this book divide into three parts: tension with ourselves (part A), tension with God (part B), and tension with others (part C). Each part contains three of the nine Beatitudes found in Matthew’s Gospel (numbered from one to nine with decimal points identifying particular sections within them).

Four sections appear in each Beatitude. The first section focuses on understanding what Jesus said and how he explained it. The second section examines the Old Testament context for each Beatitude. The third section examines the New Testament context—how did the Apostles respond to and expand on Jesus’ teaching? And the final section applies the Beatitude in a contemporary context and how we should respond. Each reflection is accompanied by a prayer and questions for further study. Soli Deo Gloria.

Footnotes

1 Pastor Anthony K. Bones of African Gospel Church of Nairobi, Kenya (http://AGCKenya.org) speaking at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Herndon, Virginia on January 14, 2015. 2 Guelich (1982, 14) citing Kissinger (1975) reports that: “Matthew 5-7 [appears] more frequently than any other three chapters in the entire Bible in the Ante Nicene [early church] writings”.

References

Guelich, Robert. 1982. The Sermon on the Mount: A Foundation for Understanding. Dallas: Word Publishing.

Kissinger, W.S. 1975. The Sermon on the Mount: A History of Interpretation and Bibliography. ATLA 3. Metuchen: Scarecrow.

Nouwen, Henri J. M. 1975. Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. New York: DoubleDay.

Preface to a Life in Tension

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/XXXmas_2019

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Prefacio de la Vida en Tensión

Vida_en_Tensión_front_20200102Porque Yo soy el SEÑOR su Dios. 

Por tanto, conságrense y sean santos, porque Yo soy santo. 

(Lev 11:44)

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Cuando Dios entra en nuestras vidas, cambiamos. Este cambio pasa por que reflexionamos más y más la imagine de Dios en nuestras vidas y el Espíritu Santo trabaja en nuestros corazones y mentes como el velo es quitado (2 Cor 3:16). El apóstol Pablo llama este proceso como santificación (Rom 6:19), que significa que aceptamos la invitación de Cristo hasta un viaje durante todo la vida a hacer más santo—sagrado y apartado—y bajo de la guía del Espíritu Santo por el camino. Como la iglesia de Cristo—los llamados, nuestra santificación es un actividad de grupo y, como cualquiera actividad donde individuos viajar por su propia paso, tensión entre los creyentes se espera.

Introducción

¿Tensión? ¿Cual tensión? Se necesita la santificación porque pecamos. Los pecados nos separamos de otras personas, de Dios, y de la persona que Dios nos creada a ser. Santificación presumiblemente reduce nuestros pecados, nos anima a permanecer en unión con Dios, y acerca nos más cerca de la persona que Dios nos creó para ser, pero también amplía la brecha entre nos y aquellos que se resisten al Espíritu Santo (1 Thess 5:19). Por este razón, los pecados y la santificación ambos pueden salir tension en los tres relaciones.

La tensión surge a diario, como un pastor observe:

Querría beber de una sucia copa?⁠1 Claro que no. Si uno seria dado una sucia copa, se rechazaría la sucia y pedir otra.

Alguien que esta acostumbrado a limpias copas inmediatamente reconocería una sucia. Cuando modelamos nuestras vidas sobre Cristo, mostramos nuestra identidad como Cristianos; apartamos de aquellos cerca nos en tensión del mundo. Como portadores de imágenes conscientes, naturalmente comenzamos a compartir la tensión que existe entre Dios y este mundo, lo que implica que la forma en que vivimos y cómo morimos es importante para Dios.

Esta tensión que sentimos es un subjetivo imagen reflejando a tres brechas las que podemos describir objetivamente. La primera brecha es dentro de nosotros y se describe la distancia entre nuestras personas naturales y la persona quien Dios creada nos a ser. Esta brecha puede conducir a la humillación a los ojos del mundo y la vergüenza dentro de nosotros, al darnos cuenta de cuán lejos nos hemos alejado de la imagen de Dios para nosotros. La segunda brecha es entre nosotros y los demás puede conducir al aislamiento, el ridículo, y la persecución, ya que ya no podemos correr con la multitud o aceptar sus normas. La tercera es la brecha entre nosotros y Dios creado por pecado que puede conducir a sentimientos de miedo, abandono y pérdida de poder espiritual, a medida que nos damos cuenta de lo que significa vivir sin la presencia y las bendiciones de Dios.

¿Puedes sentir la tensión creado por estas brechas—la vergüenza, el aislamiento, y el miedo? ¿Te puedes imaginar ser perseguido para tus creencias? ¿Estás de acuerdo o tratas de escapar? ¿Como respondemos creativamente a esta tensión?

Solo con estas tres brechas, estamos perdido; pero en Cristo nunca estamos solo. Cristo trabaja en nuestras vidas para cerrar estas brechas a través de su ejemplo reconciliador en la vida, su obra expiatoria en la cruz, y su don habilitador del Espíritu Santo. El Espíritu Santo permita nos por gracia a media de la fe a participar activamente en nuestro propia santificación cuando compartimos la paz de Dios en medio de las tensiones de la vida.

Las Bienaventuranzas

Temprano en su ministerio, Jesús predicó un sermon, lo que fue un tipo de servicio de comisión para sus discípulos. Aconsejó a sus discípulos ser humildes, llorar, ser mansos, perseguir la justicia, ser misericordiosos, ser santos, hacer las paces, ser perseguidos por las razones correctas y llevar la persecución como una insignia de honor (Mateo 5: 1–11). Increíblemente, en medio de este sermón y a pesar de la oposición esperada, Jesús dice:

Ustedes son la luz del mundo. Una ciudad situada sobre un monte no se puede ocultar; ni se enciende una lámpara y se pone debajo de una vasija (un almud), sino sobre el candelero, y alumbra a todos los que están en la casa. Así brille la luz de ustedes delante de los hombres, para que vean sus buenas acciones y glorifiquen a su Padre que está en los cielos. (Mateo 5:14-16)

Esta parábola sobre la luz ofrece dos ideas importantes para nuestra comprensión de la tensión. Primero, este pasaje no tiene sentido a menos que exista tensión entre la oscuridad y la luz; normalmente la luz expulsa la oscuridad. Secundo, este pasaje alude a las cuentas de creación donde leemos:

La tierra estaba sin orden y vacía, y las tinieblas cubrían la superficie del abismo … Entonces dijo Dios: Sea la luz. Y hubo luz. Dios vio que la luz era buena; y Dios separó la luz de las tinieblas. (Gen 1:2-4)

Creación implicó a crear luz. La implicación es que cristianos quien embracer tensión con el mundo están participando en una secunda creación evento (2 Con 5:17).

A reconocer el trabajo de crear en nuestras vidas, participamos  por medio del Espíritu Santo, no solamente en nuestra sanctification, pero también en la santificación de los demás. En otras palabras, proceso de reducir una brecha en nuestras vidas afecta las otras (Nouwen 1975, 15). Atendiendo al pecado en nuestras vidas, por ejemplo, facilita a relatar con los demás y abra nos también al Espíritu Santo. Igualmente,  a reducir nuestra brecha con Dios facilita a apreciar el ama de Dios para aquellos cerca nos y sensita nos al corrompiendo poder de pecado en nuestras propias vidas. En la economía de Dios nada es por nada. 

La Estructura del Libro

Al explorar las dimensiones espirituales de tensión en nuestras vidas, reflejo por las Bienaventuranzas en el Evangelio de Mateo. Las Bienaventuranzas introduce el Sermón de la Monte de Jesús y priorizan a sus enseñas. Debido a que el sermón funciona como un servicio de ordenación para los discípulos, la importancia de las Bienaventuranzas para la iglesia primitiva, la espiritualidad cristiana, y el discipulado no puede ser exagerada.⁠2

Las capítulos de este libro se dividen entre tres partes: tensión con nosotros mismo (parte A), tensión con Dios (parte B), y tensión con los demás (parte C). Cada parte contiene tres de las  nueve Bienaventuranzas se encuentran en el Evangelio de Mateo (numerado de uno a nueve con puntos decimales a identificar secciones particulares dentro de ellas.

Cuatro secciones aparecen para cada Bienaventuranza. La premier sección se enfoca en entendimiento lo que Jesús dejó y como explicarlo. La secunda sección examina el contexto de cada Bienaventuranza del Antiguo Testamento. La tercera sección examina el contexto del Nuevo Testamento—que respondió los Apóstoles a la enseñanza de Jesús? Y la sección fínale aplica la bienaventuranza a uno contexto contemporáneo y como debemos responder. Cada reflexión esta acompañado por una oración y preguntas para más estudiar.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Notas

1 Pastor Anthony K. Bones de African Gospel Church de Nairobi, Kenya (http://AGCKenya.org) hablando a Trinity Presbyterian Church, Herndon, Virginia por 14 enero, 2015.

2 Siguiendo Kissinger (1975), Guelich (1982, 14) reporta que: “Mateo 5-6 aparece más frecuentemente que cualquier otra tres capítulos en la Biblia entera en la escritas de la Iglesia primitiva.” (“Matthew 5-7 [appears] more frequently than any other three chapters in the entire Bible in the Ante Nicene [early church] writings”.

Referencias

Guelich, Robert. 1982. The Sermon on the Mount: A Foundation for Understanding. Dallas: Word Publishing.

Kissinger, W.S. 1975. The Sermon on the Mount: A History of Interpretation and Bibliography. ATLA 3. Metuchen: Scarecrow.

Nouwen, Henri J. M. 1975. Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. New York: DoubleDay.

Prefacio de la Vida en Tensión

Also see:

Preface to a Life in Tension

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/XXXmas_2019  

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Hernandez Explores the Polarities and Tension in Nouwen

Henry Nouwen Polarities

Hernandez Explores the Polarities and Tension in Nouwen

Wil Hernandez. 2012. Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities: A Life of Tension. Mahwah: Paulist Press.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

When I was a scout, I loved working with map and compass. Out in the wilderness armed with map and compass, how do you find your location and plot progress towards your destination? Stories of survivors of plane crashes in remote places often have the theme that those who survived plotted a course out to the horizon while those that died walked around in circles following their own instincts. Because our spiritual journey often bears a resemblance to these survival stories, how do we  interpret the tensions and polarities that we encounter along the way? Wil Hernandez in his book, Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities, takes up this challenge.[1]

Introduction

Hernandez describes himself as “a retreat leader, counselor, and spiritual director” who also teaches at various colleges and seminaries[2]. He finished his doctoral degree in practical theology at Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, California) in with a special concentration in spirituality/spiritual formation.

Hernandez states his purpose as:

“This book is about the tension-filled journey of Henri Nouwen and centered around his inward, outward, and upward (or Godward) resolve to live out the dialectical tensions that characterize much of spiritual life.” (xxi)

Three key points arise in this statement.  First, the journey is Nouwen’s journey. Second, Hernandez sees Nouwen at work to resolve the tension in the journey. Three, the tension itself further divides into three dimensions—inward, outward, and upward—which Hernandez describes as a trilogy—psychological, ministerial, and theological (xxiv).  He sees Nouwen adopting a “both/and modality, moving closer to the center, and working towards integration” (116-117).

For Hernandez tension arises: “when we face various elements of irony, anomaly, absurdity, opposition, or contradiction in our experience” (2).  He asks how come:

“God is portrayed in Scripture as both transcendent and immanent, hidden and revealed, unknowable and knowable, unreachable and accessible, universal and local?” (1)

Opposition

While he acknowledges that this is the nature of the mystery of God, Hernandez is careful in his introduction to define three concepts of opposition:

Paradox“a paradox is characterized by a self-contradictory proposition that can appear absurd or nonsensical.” (2)

Antinomy: “As in paradox, the same element of contradiction is present, except that the appearance of contradiction does not reside in the clever phrasing of the language, but rather is constituted in the very nature of the proposition being articulated.” (3)

Polarity: “Polarity, at its simplest, refers to the presence of two opposites.  When two contrasting principles are placed side-by-side or invoked simultaneously, tension predictably rises.” (4)

Following Preston Busch, Hernandez distinguishes two types of spiritual polarities:  conversional and cooperative. In the first, natural movement is from one pole to the other, while, in the second, movement between poles is back and forth (4-5). While he sees Nouwen’s work in Reaching Out as an illustration of a conversional polarity (from loneliness to solitude, from hostility to hospitality, and from illusion to prayer), the emphasis in this book is on cooperative polarities—such as breathing in and breathing out (5). The reason being that Hernandez sees Nouwen having a proclivity towards integration (6), as mentioned previously.

Hernandez’s focus on this proclivity is highly ironic because, having focused on cooperative polarities, he organizes his chapters around the same trilogy—inward, outward, and upward—articulated in Reaching Out, which he describes as conversional.

Because Hernandez uses this trilogy—inward, outward, and upward—to organize the chapters in his book, let me focus on each in turn.

Inward

Nouwen (1975, 23) sees the inward journey as a movement from loneliness to solitude. Like Nouwen, Hernandez sees the Christian walk as a journey from the false self in ourselves to true self in Christ. Here Hernandez writes:

“Integral to the notion of loving ourselves is the capacity to accept and embrace the totality of who we are—good and bad, true and false. Lodged into our very depths is an ongoing interplay of light and darkness.” (16)

Hernandez interprets Nouwen as seeing the opportunity to re-channel negative energies into “more positive forces” (19).  This re-channeling of the negative is possible because “In God’s economy, nothing is ever wasted, but all is redeemable.” (20) He sees self-knowledge, especially knowledge of our own sin and brokenness, helping us reframe our fallen condition under the curse to become a blessing (24, 41).

Outward

Nouwen’s outward movement journeys from hostility to hospitality (Nouwen 1975, 63). Nouwen hospitality uniquely describes hospitality as offering “a hospitable place where life can be lived without fear and where community can be found” (Nouwen 1975, 65). Like Nouwen, Hernandez sees the inward and outward movements closely bound, perhaps even in tension, for example, when he cites Bonhoeffer:

“Let him [sic] who cannot be alone beware of community. He will only do harm to himself and to the community. But the reverse is also true:  Let him who is not in community beware of being alone and only in aloneness do we learn to live rightly in the fellowship.” (48)

Closer to earth, opposite to a ministry of presence is Hernandez outlines a ministry of intentional absence or, what Nouwen refers to as, “creative withdrawal”. He writes:

“The rational for such withdrawal is to pave the way for the Spirit of God to work freely in a person or situation without us potentially getting in the way.” (75)

Perhaps the way to think of it is as an outward counterpart of solitude.

Upward

Hernandez sees our tension with God caught between Christ’s suffering and his glory which we, in turn, mirror (83). He cites a verse dear to my heart:

“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death (Phil 3:10)” (83)

Nouwen (1975, 111) starts in a slightly different place talking about a movement from illusion to prayer.[3] Nevertheless, I prefer Hernandez’s perspective because of the temporal component that he takes from John Dunn’s “already” and “not yet” (93)—while we suffer with Christ today, we also look forward to sharing in his future glory.

Wil Herandez’s book, Henri Nouwen and Spiritual Polarities, provides a helpful and accessible commentary on the breadth of Nouwen’s writing, with special emphasis on Nouwen’s treatment of polarities. Nouwen is an important influence on my own spirituality and writing, yet on first reading I have not understood very well what he actually said. Hernandez’s writing has helped me move beyond that point.  Seminary students and pastors reading Nouwen will want to take  a look at this book.

References

Nouwen, Henri J. M. 1975. Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life. New York: DoubleDay.

Nouwen, Henri J.M.   2010.  Wounded Healer:  Ministry in Contemporary Society (Orig pub 1972). New York:  Image Doubleday.

[1] This book is the third in a trilogy focused on Henri Nouwen. The other two are: Henri Nouwen: A Spirituality of Imperfection (2006) and Henri Nouwen and Soul Care: A Ministry of Integration (2008). For a review the first, see: Hernandez:  A Spiritual Biography of Henri Nouwen, Part 1 (http://wp.me/p3Xeut-1ey), Part 2 (http://wp.me/p3Xeut-1eJ), and Part 3 (http://wp.me/p3Xeut-1eN).

[2] Back cover of his book. Also see:  http://www.NouwenLegacy.com/author.php.

[3] I might have expected Nouwen to offer a detailed theology of prayer with transcendence embedded in it.  Otherwise, I might be concerned that Nouwen’s view of prayer is another aspect of his inward journey, an example of psychology overwhelming theology.

 

Also see: Hernandez: A Spiritual Biography of Henri Nouwen, Part 1 

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