Friday, August 31, 2007

Passion and creative tension

After reading an article from The Ooze I find myself wondering about tension between passion for Christ and moderation (or to use Brian McLaren's term "Generous Orthodoxy"). The author of the article in The Ooze maintains that we live in a world that is no longer defined by the bell curve. Perhaps you remember the bell curve from college statistics or better yet from high school teachers who graded on a curve. The bell curve defines normality and extremes. Statistically, the majority of things within one standard deviation of the center (mean). In a bell curve world, 68% of us are moderate/average/normal.
Author/preacher/teacher Leonard Sweet says we now live in the world of the "well-curve" where most of us are at extremes. (The "well-curve" is essentially the bell curve turned upside down.) The author of the article in the Ooze feels that this is a call to be extreme Christians rather than simply average Christians.
Now, I firmly believe that we are called to be radical followers of Christ. Yet, I follow a savior who preached and taught a message that is more balanced than most of us. He balanced law and grace, love and justice, action and belief, personal and social holiness, care for individuals and care for community . . . In everything Jesus showed us a way that is difficult primarily because it forces us to live in creative tension between extremes.
So now as I look at the image of the roller coaster that I suggested in Sunday's sermon was the appropriate image for the Christian life, I notice that it looks like a bell curve. Okay--I'm pushing this a bit far BUT what if in our well-curve, extremist world we are called to live passionately in creative tension between the extremes? Perhaps what our world needs most right now are Christians with a generous orthodoxy that reach out to both ends of the curve?
What do you think?