Tending to the Tension
The world appears to be increasingly polarized, a condition that seems to have entered every aspect of life. For example, the rich and the poor still exist, but the gap between them is greater, and the middle class is disappearing. Polarization is found not only in the financial realm but increasingly in politics, business, family relationships, and even in the Church. Polarization is based on conflict and division. It is an overemphasis on the differences between people at the expense of the unity that makes us who we are as a community. The end result is radical individualism.
This, however, is not how the Church is supposed to be. We are not only called to have a personal relationship with God but a unifying relationship with one another. Although tension does exist, it can be beneficial. Diversity devoid of division and unity without blind conformity allow us to grow without sac- rificing fidelity. There is only one way to accomplish this healthy tension—the answer is through Jesus Christ.
If I recognize that I am not God, that I don’t have all the answers, and that I don’t set the standard by which the world is measured, I must begin to seek answers outside myself. I soon realize that other people in the world have dif- ferent gifts, talents, views, and personalities. In an effort to understand and relate to this diversity, I am pushed to find some standard by which to measure reality. Some conclude that such a standard doesn’t exist and enter into a form of individual or cultural relativism. However, if we look to Jesus Christ and ac- knowledge him as the true Son of God, then we see we do have a standard who provides a unifying factor in the midst of diversity—Jesus.
Therefore, in an ecumenical dialogue (a conversation among Christians), the belief that Jesus Christ is the Messiah is the commonality in the discussion. By acknowledging who Jesus is, we recognize all Christians are brothers and sisters in Christ. This creates the possibility for an environment of mutual respect and dignity. Although we may not agree, we can actively listen, continu- ously learn, and strive together to discover the truth within the fullness of the revelation of Jesus. Looking to Jesus for the answers we need in our world lays a foundation on which people of goodwill can exist in a healthy tension that seeks truth, allowing us to build community. The various gifts that each has to offer should make the commu- nity, the body of Christ, reflect evermore. And this elevates individuals. The fullest expression of who we are exists in the midst of a community of people seek- ing the face of Jesus Christ in all we say and do.