Most of us will acknowledge that our hearts are home to faith and doubt, hope and disappointment, clarity and confusion, victory and defeat, life and death, strength and weakness, or belief and absurdity. Active followers of Jesus often mislabel the existence of these counterpoints as spiritual immaturity. Individuals investigating Jesus often over-interpret the existence of these counterpoints as barriers to faith. Both miss the mark.
There is a gracious way to understand these coexisting, competing opposites that occupy us. To frame this as a question, what if one expression of God’s work in us is the mysterious morphing of these counterpoints from competing noise to beautiful harmony? In other words, we should not live our lives in anticipation of spiritual achievement that finally and permanently removes doubt, disappointment, confusion, defeat, death, weakness, or absurdity. Rather, we should live energized by curiosity as we eagerly anticipate God's intertwining work of our cohabitating counterpoints. In this sense, to mature in Jesus is to be eternally curious and in awe of the beautiful, harmonic sounds God is able to produce from our conflicted souls.
Classical musicians are familiar with this kind of phenomenon because a similar occurrence exists especially in Baroque music. This is referred to as contrapuntal sounds, which are melodies played against one another (counterpoints) that surprisingly produce harmony not chaotic noise. If music can do this, than how much more can God, the creator of music, do this in us? He is the Master Producer who is constantly shaping the contrapuntal sounds that flow out of our fragile lives.
This spiritual truth is supremely illustrated in Mark’s Gospel (chapter 9) where a father brings his son, suffering from a violent spirit that makes him unable to speak and inflicts episodic seizures, to Jesus to be cured. The father cries out the following to Jesus, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” The father’s honest confession of coexisting opposites residing in his heart probably resonates with most of us. But incredibly, Jesus receives both exclamations. He does not excessively credit the father for the statement of belief or excessively penalize him for the statement of unbelief. For Jesus, the two counterpoints are interdependent producing an harmonious expression of faith rather than being an indication of a fickle soul. In the end the father’s son is graciously healed, and the father leaves probably full of wonder as to the events that just transpired.
Jesus is a true ambassador to a universe of other options. Just when we think we have him figured out, he surprises us. Would you want it any other way?