Tuning the tension

by Linzy Slayden

In 1950, Oberlin College awarded an honorary doctorate to Theodore Steinway. Over the years, his company has produced well over 600,000 pianos. There are 243 strings in each instrument, producing 40,000 pounds of pressure on each frame! Someone said, “Theodore Steinway has taught the world that out of great tension, harmony can come.”

Most people have the idea that tension is bad. While it is true that tension can be destructive, it is also true that tension can be an invitation for growth and great harmony. It all depends on your perspective. What life does to us pretty well depends on what life finds in us. The problem is really not tension, but the way we handle it.

Few of us have the privilege of enjoying problem-free lives. (If noth­ing else, we have to live with ourselves, and that might be our biggest problem!) Even if we could arrange to escape problems, we would prob­ably be bored and experience little personal growth. “All sunshine makes a desert,” states an Arab proverb, and that statement rings true. Troubles and trials are a part of the furniture of life, no matter how you arrange the room.

Of course, the obvious thing is making the tension work for us, not against us.

Consider what this principle means in the home. Tension in the home may be evidence that people are growing, that their personalities are taking up more room than their bodies are, and some happy adjust­ments need to be made. Have you ever raised a teenager? Tension in the family and marriage can be an opportunity for evaluation and a deeper insight into the needs and hidden feelings of people. The same is true in the local church. The two enemies of harmony are ignorance and selfish­ness. If we sweep tensions under the rug, they will grow and become even bigger problems. If we refuse to submit to the Lord and each other in love, then tension will be destructive and not constructive.

As you read the book of Acts, you see a pattern of tension and response. The tensions changed from time to time but the Holy Spirit enabled the church to transform tension into growing power.

When it comes to the big tent of the BBFI, there will always be some tension. We have older pastors and younger pastors, and all ages in between with differing styles and methods. As I read magazine articles, blogs, and internet discussion lists, and as I talk to pastors and mission­aries across our Fellowship, it is impossible to escape tension. We need a steady hand on the wheel while we listen to the tensions, being alert to the wiles of the devil, praying much, and spending time in the Word. It is only then the Holy Spirit of God will direct us to solutions just as He has in the past. The great need of the hour is for our Fellowship to work together in unity and harmony as we take the beautiful music of the gos­pel to a lost world.